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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
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#125865 Slip Dipping Small Wasp Nests?

Posted by neilestrick on 27 April 2017 - 08:19 AM

I think that you'll lose a lot of detail if you just dip it in slip. That works well for absorbent things like woven fabrics and lace, but I think with a wasp nest the slip will just sit on top and all the detail will be on the inside. I suppose if you build up with very thin slip it might work, but you may also have a problem with the slip cracking as it dries around the nest. I think you'll just have to try it and see, unless someone else here has already tried it. If you really want detail, make a plaster mold of the nest that you can then slip cast.

#125828 Recommend Me: A Glaze Material Book For Foundation Principles.

Posted by neilestrick on 26 April 2017 - 10:43 AM

I am with Joel.  Throw out limit formula, there are toooo meannny exceptions :lol:




For students who are new to glaze formulation, and who are looking to make glazes for functional work, limit formulas are very important. You have to learn the basics before you start pushing the envelope. And even then you shouldn't discount limit formulas. Pretty much any time someone posts a glaze here on the forum that's having problems, the issue is caused by something being out of limits.

#125778 Recommend Me: A Glaze Material Book For Foundation Principles.

Posted by neilestrick on 25 April 2017 - 01:26 PM

I occasionally teach a short glaze class here at my studio. My students are mostly 40+ years old, and haven't seen a chemistry or math book in decades. I have to teach them how to convert to percentages and batches, so any really in-depth chemistry is out of the question. And to be honest, it's not my forte either. I can pretty easily figure out how to make what I need, but I don't get into hexavalent whatevers. In fact at this point there are so many glaze recipes available on the web that I primarily just alter existing formulas rather than working from scratch. The purpose of the class is simply to give them a basic understanding of how glazes work, and give them the tools to run tests in their own studios, not to go down the rabbit hole or turn them into chemists.


Anyway, in my class we do simple fusion buttons of all the raw materials, then we do line blends and triaxial blends to make real glazes. For all of those blends we always use 10% EPK,  20% silica, and 70% flux in each corner. That give them a lot of simple, useable glazes, and they start to see how the fluxes behave, like how powerful frits are. We also run triaxial color tests and talk about the purpose of silica and alumina in the glazes and how to adjust them using the unity formula. They get a bit flustered by unity, so we talk a lot about how to adjust without getting mathy about it. They are generally amazed at how simple a good, functional, interesting glaze recipe can be.


With a basic understanding of the alumina:silica:flux relationship you can do an awful lot with glazes. Throw in glaze formulation software and limit formulas and you're good to go. Anything super specific can be found on the web.


I should also add that for me, it's not about how interesting any one glaze is, but rather how they behave when they are layered. I never make a pot with less than 2 glazes on it, often 3 or 4. You can't replicate than kind of movement with a single glaze. Most of my glazes are very simple, 5 ingredients or so, and nothing exotic- just feldpsars, frits, dolomite, zinc, and whiting. I don't even stock wollastonite or strontium. But with just those you can create a huge range of surfaces that do some pretty amazing things when layered. All of the glazes I use are also my class glazes, so I have to make sure that they're all easy to apply and very consistent in firing results so even my beginning students can be successful with them.

#125774 Best Literature To Learn How To Stack A Gas Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 25 April 2017 - 11:08 AM

Every kiln I have built has used bag walls. Even if they aren't needed to maintain evenness top to bottom, they keep the direct flame off the pots at the bottom.

#125735 Test Kiln - Is This Another Crazy Idea?

Posted by neilestrick on 24 April 2017 - 01:17 PM

You can't remove sections and expect it to work the same way. The elements are made to put out a certain amount of heat for that kiln. If you remove sections, the area of heated bricks (wall bricks) to non-heated bricks (lid and floor) changes, so the original calculations no longer apply.


As a test kiln, that's still too big. If you're really just needing to run glaze tiles or a couple of mugs for tests, get a baby kiln.

#125665 Studio Clean Up Question ( Wheel Throwing )

Posted by neilestrick on 22 April 2017 - 11:27 AM

I use a lot of water, but I throw quickly. They key is to get it centered and pulled up quickly, then you don't really need any water for shaping so you can take your time at that point.

#125648 Studio Clean Up Question ( Wheel Throwing )

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2017 - 05:29 PM

First let the towels/clothes/etc dry completely. Then soak them in a bucket for 20 minutes. Any clay on them will slake down and fall off. Then wring them out and thrown them in the washer.

#125641 Zirconium Oxide Question

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2017 - 03:20 PM

Zircon is very refractory, hence the need for high temps. In studio ceramics most folks just use it as an opacifier in the form of Superpax/Zircopax, which also has silica in it. As for straight zircon flour, people sometimes use it for kiln coatings because it resists corrosive atmospheres like salt and soda firings, but it's super expensive compared to other materials so it's not really used that often. Look it up on Digitalfire and you'll find lots of good information.

#125630 Skutt 1027 Upgrade?

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2017 - 11:39 AM

Do you have 208 volt service in your studio?


What is the max temp rating on the serial plate?


What is the wattage rating on the serial plate?


Why do you want to fire to cone 10?

#125601 Community Studio - Classes Vs Membership Structures/business Models

Posted by neilestrick on 20 April 2017 - 12:26 PM

Lots of good points already made. Like Matthew,  I require everyone to enroll in at least one 8 week session before they can have a key to the studio. That way they can learn how the studio operates, because every studio functions a bit differently. I also agree with not letting a production potter or full time potter use the studio. They'll just eat up all the kiln time and shelf space. If they want to be 'professional', then they need to go all the way and get their own studio. My key holders each get two shelves to keep their in-process work on (rather than the usual one shelf that my students get), and if they're consistently making more work than they can fit on those two shelves then we need to have a talk. It's never been a problem, though. People understand that this place is meant for hobbyists, not full time artists. My key holders pay the same for clay as my students, which includes firing costs. They also help take care of the studio, like throwing a load of towels in the wash or cleaning the bathroom. They also act as monitors and run the studio if they're here while I'm out on kiln repairs.


You need to have a good set of rules, on paper, that the key holders read and sign. It should include methods of dealing with infractions, 3 strike rule or whatever, etc, otherwise it can be difficult to kick someone out without opening yourself up to legal issues. It should also include pricing, schedules, etc. My people rent by the month, but you may want to lock them in for longer if you think they'll go for it. I charge about 15% less per month for key holders than I do for students, simply because I don't have to do anything with the key holders.


I am not a fan of members or key holders having any sort of governing power. I know of a couple of studios/co-ops where each member essentially becomes a member of the board, and that just complicates things and makes it increasingly difficult to get anything done or make changes to the system. By all means take suggestions from everyone, but have as few people in charge as possible. I also see studios where there are too many levels of management for the size of the studio. Again, it just complicates things.


Over all, it's a great way to get more people into the studio without you having to work more, and it's appealing to folks who don't have time to attend a weekly scheduled class.

  • Min likes this

#125546 Glazes Coming Out To Dark (Look Burnt)

Posted by neilestrick on 19 April 2017 - 09:24 AM

First, put some cones in the kiln. You'll never get decent results without knowing how hot it's getting, and could end up doing a lot of damage to your kiln shelves or ruining your work. The thermocouple should only be used as a guide to measure rate of climb. Cones are the only thing that will be accurate in a gas kiln.


Any high iron clay will get darker the hotter it gets, and if you had a reducing atmosphere in the kiln then it will go really dark. Most brown/red clay bodies rated for cone 6/8 or lower are not intended for reduction. Their iron content is too high for that. Oxidation requires more iron to go dark, so in reduction it's too much iron.

#125519 Quick Question: Sea Shells - Cone 6 - Which Type?

Posted by neilestrick on 18 April 2017 - 07:54 PM

I would not add them to the clay body. You wouldn't add limestone or plaster chunks to your clay, and this would be about the same. Stick to using them on the surface to produce shell scars in glazes. Any type of shell will work, but the flat scallop shells are the easiest to use, and make for a nice recognizable pattern in the glaze.

#125436 How To Glaze Cone 5 Bisque-From A Newbie

Posted by neilestrick on 17 April 2017 - 07:58 AM

Throw them out and try again. Glazing vitrified clay is difficult at best, and not worth the time.

#125336 New Kiln Burners

Posted by neilestrick on 13 April 2017 - 12:40 PM

Call Ward Burner. Don't skimp on safety systems.

#125318 Any Opinions On The Olympic Fl20E Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 13 April 2017 - 08:24 AM

Any kiln will get hot. The difference is in the quality of the construction and ease of repair, and you get what you pay for. Look at other kilns of the same type and see what the difference is. Do some searching on the forum here, too. I think there was a thread recently about front load kilns.