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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 04:59 PM

#125282 Is This Strange?

Posted by neilestrick on 12 April 2017 - 02:42 PM

All clay has mold, and if you leave it covered for weeks it'll grow fuzzy mold all over it. The newspaper is what made your mold particularly nasty. It's starting to break down because of the moisture, and the mold is going crazy feeding on it.

#125229 Brent Cxc Troubleshooting

Posted by neilestrick on 11 April 2017 - 07:01 PM

It can be difficult to visually tell if a fuse is blown. The best way to know is to test it with a multi-meter. As for the rest of the problems, I don't think the rain from the night before is necessarily the problem unless water actually got into it. Chances are it's just an old crappy wheel that needs repairs. It could be a problem with the controller or the pedal or the motor itself. Assuming the fuse is good, call Brent and ask them how to do a couple of simple tests. Depending on which controller you have, there are ways to move wires around to check if the motor itself is working. Could just be the brushes in the motor need replacing. New pedal guts are cheap, and worth replacing regardless. Brent is very helpful once you get them on the phone, which can be difficult sometimes.


If the seller said it was in good working condition, then I'd be asking for my money back.

#125218 In Search Of Kiln Space

Posted by neilestrick on 11 April 2017 - 01:57 PM

Cone 6 porcelain is equally as functional and durable as cone 10. Bisque to 04, glaze to 6. If your studio already does cone 6 glaze firings, ask if they can get you some porcelain so you can fire it there. If not, ask if they can approve one you can buy on your own and pay a firing fee. It will be difficult to find another studio to fire your work for you. Most places only want to fire work for their own students, and for good reason. There's too much liability with people bringing outside clay and glazes.

#125206 In Search Of Kiln Space

Posted by neilestrick on 11 April 2017 - 08:05 AM

Why will you be bisque firing at cone 10? It'll be near impossible to get glazes to stick at that point. Just get a good cone 6 porcelain, bisque to cone 04, glaze to 6. Cone 6 porcelain can be just as tight and glassy as cone 10. Can you do that at your studio?

#125147 Epoxy Thickener?

Posted by neilestrick on 09 April 2017 - 04:25 PM

I just let the epoxy set up a little bit before applying it.

  • Min likes this

#125078 Cress E23 Not Shutting Off

Posted by neilestrick on 08 April 2017 - 01:24 PM

So every other element was orange, like just one in each ring?


Does your kiln have zone control, or just one thermocouple?


Did the controller say CPLT (complete) at the end of the firing?


Unless you put in a cooling cycle, the elements should not still be on. If the glazes ran, then either the glazes are too fluid or the kiln over-fired. Slow cooling does not cause all that much additional melt.


My first guess is that you wired it wrong. I looked at the wiring diagram, and it's fairly goofy as far as kiln wiring goes, so it wouldn't be hard to to it wrong. It looks like maybe they're using the safety output on the controller to run a main relay? Go through the wiring diagram and see if you got it right. The other possibility is that you have a dead relay. From the wiring diagram it looks like if one was dead then that would account for an every-other-one glowing situation, although that wouldn't account fir it glowing after the firing is done.

#125061 Question About Clay Going Down The Drain

Posted by neilestrick on 08 April 2017 - 07:40 AM

Get a Gleco Trap for your sink. I don't think there's any way to put a trap on your bathtub.

#125003 My Thoughts On Element Life

Posted by neilestrick on 07 April 2017 - 11:41 AM

People are always asking about element life, so here are my thoughts on that subject:


On my personal kilns I get 150-160 firings out of my elements, doing a combination of cone 04 bisque and cone 6 glaze, probably 35% bisque and 65% glaze. This is true for both my big 21 cubic foot kiln and my small 4 cubic foot kiln, and is consistent from year to year. Both are L&L kilns with standard elements, not quads. I see similar numbers in my customers' kilns of all brands. I have to change the elements in my small kiln every year, in my big kiln every 2 years.


According to my records I've currently got 241 firings on the thermocouples on my small kiln. I should probably check those soon. They do tend to last longer than the elements, though, because they are thicker and are in protection tubes.


Only firing to low fire temps makes a big difference in element life. Today I did a checkup on an L&L E23T that I installed in a school in 2009. They do about 55 firings a year, all low fire- bisque to 04, glaze to 05. The kiln currently has 418 firings on its original elements, relays and thermocouples. The element resistance is almost perfect. Visually they're starting to show their age, though, and I expect that they'll start to degrade more quickly over the next year. I told them to budget for an element change at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. I wouldn't be surprise if they hit 500 firings.


All of this is subject to what's going on in your specific kiln, though. I have a customer who only gets 70 cone 6 glaze firings out of her elements because she does a really long, slow soak at the high end. She could get 100 with a typical firing schedule. The types of glazes you use, and how you load the kiln will also effect element life. Don't put your pots right up against the kiln walls! I'm also convinced that doing a combination of bisque and cone 6 will get you more cone 6 firings than just firing cone 6 all the time. I have absolutely no science to back that up, but my customers who only use their kiln for cone 6 glaze firings tend to get a slightly fewer firings out of their elements.


Maxing out your kiln will cost you. I have a customer who is using their Skutt 1227, 208 volt single phase kiln for cone 5. On that voltage and phase it is only rated for cone 5, so they are maxing out what the kiln can do, and it's definitely costing them. Once the element resistance changes just a little bit, the kiln can no longer get to cone 5 and we have to change the elements. If the kiln was rated for cone 8 or cone 10, it could handle more resistance change before it struggled to get to cone 5. The customer is supposed to be trying some firings to cone 3 with a hold to get to 5. Hopefully that will work out and help with their element life. In my tests, higher temps seem to burn out elements faster than holds.


Keep your elements clean. Vacuum out the kiln occasionally. Monthly would be fine, but definitely any time something blows up. All the little shards on the elements cause hot spots, which lessen the element life. I worked on a kiln at a school once that was only used for low fire pots. The teacher never vacuumed it out when the kids' work blew up, and the bottom element was full of shards, like really full. As we all know, low fire clay melts when it gets too hot. Well, the clay shards caused enough hot spots that all of the shards melted and fused the entire bottom ring of the element into the bricks. It was just a big tube of glass filling the element grooves. I had to replace all of the bricks in the bottom row. $$$


Have a great weekend!

#124989 Pid Controller As Replacement For Bad Sentry Controller

Posted by neilestrick on 07 April 2017 - 08:39 AM

Rather than getting a replacement controller from Paragon, call Bartlett Instruments and buy it directly from them. It'll be a lot cheaper ($219), and you'll have all the benefits of a controller that's made for firing pottery and is easy to install with all the same wiring.

#124972 Eggshell Glaze Cone 6

Posted by neilestrick on 06 April 2017 - 09:50 PM

Pretty sure it's the bentonite. It's just shrinking way too much. I've never seen a recipe with that much. Drop it to 2% and put the rest into the kaolin. You'll probably need some epson salts to keep it suspended well.

#124967 Making Glazes

Posted by neilestrick on 06 April 2017 - 08:24 PM

Each material has a different weight per unit of volume. A cup of frit is about 300 grams. A cup of silica is slightly more. A cup of EPK is only about 125-150 grams. Plus if you go by volume, the amount of material actually present in a scoop will be different  each time due how tightly packed the material is in the scoop. Do everything in grams for the best accuracy.

#124947 What To Use For Marking Bottom Of Glaze Tests

Posted by neilestrick on 06 April 2017 - 02:42 PM

Underglaze pencil.

#124766 Need Pictures Of Kiln With Pottery Fired Too Hot In It

Posted by neilestrick on 03 April 2017 - 10:04 PM

I've seen a number of kilns damaged when low fire work was fired to cone 5/6. It can not only melt the pots all over the shelves, if you've got a full kiln it will ooze into the bricks and elements. I've seen a few kilns that had to be thrown out because it was so bad.


In my studio the rule is that I only fire clay brought from me, and that I only fire for my students. I don't want to be in the business of firing. If someone wants to be an independent artist and make work at home then they need to have their own kiln. If not, then they need to be part of a studio.


Firing work for 'outsiders' puts way too much liability on you. Even if the piece doesn't melt, folks will complain if their glaze doesn't come out the way they think it should, or if the piece cracks, etc. You'll get the blame and your business may suffer from it. It's just not worth the effort. The only time I will fire for someone that's not a student of mine is after I interview them and figure out their experience level. If they've got a degree in ceramics, then I'll consider it. Anything less and I say no.

#124481 Plastic Bat Issue

Posted by neilestrick on 29 March 2017 - 05:08 PM

Other than plates or very wide bottomed forms, you shouldn't really need a bat for anything under 3 pounds.

#124365 Sio-2 Clay - Porcelain(Black) - Black Ice

Posted by neilestrick on 27 March 2017 - 09:40 PM

At that price it should be perfect.