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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
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#121291 Crafty Ideas For Ceramic Insulators

Posted by neilestrick on 27 January 2017 - 09:05 AM

What exactly are you hoping to accomplish? Functional, decorative....?

#121270 How Much Does A Refractory Castable Shrink On First Firing?

Posted by neilestrick on 26 January 2017 - 01:05 PM

Wouldn't a brick arch be cheaper and more durable than the castable ?


Yes. Stronger, lighter and more durable, likely cheaper than commercially purchased castable. All the joints in bricks allow for movement and stress release. Arches seem complicated to folks who have never built one, though, when in fact they are wonderfully simple and incredibly strong. That's how we ended up with the Minnesota Flat Top. But I don't see a lot of flat roofs that are still around from Roman times.

#121175 Preventing Glaze From Running On Pipes

Posted by neilestrick on 24 January 2017 - 09:05 PM

Yes, raising the bottom should help.

#121132 Poor Basic Skill Sets, And Their Consequences

Posted by neilestrick on 23 January 2017 - 10:23 PM

I always tell my students to be very wary of what they see on YouTube. Lots of people post videos of how they work, and it's exciting for beginners/amateurs to watch, but they don't understand that someone who has been making pots for 10 years has evolved into their throwing techniques. As beginners they just don't have an understanding or feel for the clay to be able to work that way. I definitely don't throw the way I demo for beginners, because I show them a simplified method that has one distinct action for each hand. I also get a fair number of students who came from other studios where the teacher has taught them they way he/she throws, and it's too complicated for a newbie to understand, and they struggle with centering.


I had a student once who was working on the wrong side of the clay for the first few days of class, and I never caught it because every time I walked by she would take her hands off the clay and look busy doing something else because she was so nervous.

#121072 Preventing Glaze From Running On Pipes

Posted by neilestrick on 22 January 2017 - 10:16 PM

I think he can't really fix the glaze issues until the kiln issues are fixed. And the glaze issues may not really be an issue once the kiln is firing evenly.

#121054 Preventing Glaze From Running On Pipes

Posted by neilestrick on 22 January 2017 - 02:34 PM

It all just looks too cramped to me, too. Kilns need space to breathe and move air around. My last gas kiln was 24 cubic feet of actual stacking space plus about 20 cubic feet of open space for the fireboxes, bag walls, and breathing room around the shelves.

#121042 Brent Controller Woes-Well Not Really

Posted by neilestrick on 22 January 2017 - 10:32 AM

Brent wheels definitely have great longevity, there's no denying that, but I think most wheels last a good long time. I've got 15 years on my personal wheel with no repairs, and 12 years on my 10 classroom wheels that take a beating with just a couple of minor repairs. I've still never changed a belt on any of them. 35 years ago Brent and Shimpo were just about the only wheels on the market, so we see a lot of them that have been around a long time. I think Brent's design was superior to the old Shimpo cone drive for sure, which was never very smooth, although they both last a long time. I imagine that in another 15 years we'll all be saying the same thing about the longevity of our Skutt, Bailey, Pacifica and Shimpo Whisper wheels. They're just such a simple system that there's not a whole lot that can go wrong.


I get that there's only so much you can do with a motor controller, but what bothers me is that after 30 years of putting different controllers on their wheels, Brent is now back to the old 'Classic Controller', there still aren't any fine tuning adjustments other than the high and low dial on the pedal, and yet they're the most expensive wheel on the market. A complete control box assembly is $365 if you're replacing an existing one, $478 to upgrade from a different box. The pedal potentiometer is $65, or $98 with the cord. By comparison, you can get a complete Skutt/TS control box for $180, and it has 5 adjustments on the controller so you can dial in exactly how you want your wheel to feel. You can get the complete Skutt/TS SSX control box, their upgraded system, for only $280. A Skutt/TS potentiometer with cord is only $20. It feels like Brent is really making a killing on parts for old wheels.

#120960 Finding Bats To Fit Shimpo Rk-2 Wheel Head

Posted by neilestrick on 20 January 2017 - 02:08 PM

You can buy bats with 10" holes and drill them for 8". The extra holes won't hurt anything. Or if there's room on your wheel head, drill it for 10" spacing. 1/4" hole.

#120813 Clay For Making Kiln Furniture

Posted by neilestrick on 17 January 2017 - 09:15 PM

Has anyone tried this?  It's a make your own kiln shelf recipe.  https://digitalfire...._plus_1725.html  I think I will price some zircopax and compare to ready made kiln shelves but I thought I'd ask to see if anyone has tried it yet.


I wouldn't mess with it. By the time you've paid for all the materials and spent the time, you're way behind what it costs to just buy a shelf. If you've got the time and money, then go for it, but if you're wanting to do it in order to save money, it's not worth it. I would rather spend the time making pots than making kiln shelves.


That recipe could be a great way to make catch cups for runny glaze tests and such, though.

#120794 Dealing With Overkill Packaging

Posted by neilestrick on 17 January 2017 - 04:06 PM

I put it in a box that will allow 3 inches all the way around, and build an interior 'box' out of scrap pieces of cardboard (I cut up boxes that are odd sized for shipping pots), all 6 sides of the pot. The cardboard keeps the pot from migrating through the peanuts and resting against the side of the box where it can be broken. Fill it up tight with peanuts- you should have to compress the slightly to get the box closed. With this technique I have never had a piece break, and I don't have to use two good boxes. For multiple pieces, wrap them in foam or bubble and tape them together to form a solid mass, then pack the same way. Details HERE.

#120642 Kiln Shelves

Posted by neilestrick on 15 January 2017 - 07:36 PM

In a kiln that small it won't really matter.

#120296 Preventing Glaze From Running On Pipes

Posted by neilestrick on 09 January 2017 - 07:06 PM

Once you get the kiln dialed in, your glaze problems will be as simple as firing to the correct cone.

#120277 Broken Ceramic Element Holders

Posted by neilestrick on 09 January 2017 - 03:23 PM

The element holder design has definitely changed since the Econo Kiln line was made. I don't know if the brick slot has remained the same, though. You'll have to call L&L on that. If they do fit the same then you can break out the old ones and put in the new ones, or just wait until you're ready for an element change and do it at that time when you can remove the brick and slide them out.

#120220 Broken Ceramic Element Holders

Posted by neilestrick on 08 January 2017 - 10:30 PM

I wouldn't trust cement to hold those element holders at all. Plus you run the risk of getting cement on the elements which would be bad for them. Just replace them. Talk to L&L, though, because the new holders may not fit in the old slots. You may have to replace the entire brick, with new holders.


Marcia- refractory cement does not hold well on old bricks, plus a big part of what makes a lid or floor slab strong is the layout of the bricks- staggered joints. Cementing up a big crack won't have that benefit, so it is very weak. Bite the bullet and replace it. It will have to ship freight, so get a shipping quote before ordering it. I just got a quote for a replacement floor slab for a Skutt 1227 and it's $165 just for shipping. Of course, you'll be a lot closer in Montana so that may help.

#119946 Will This Glazing Process Work?

Posted by neilestrick on 05 January 2017 - 09:52 PM

If you do it with glazes, then chances are they will run and blur your design. Single firing can also cause problems unless you fire very slowly and/or have glazes that can handle single firing. If I were you I would do the technique with underglazes (won't run), bisque fire, then glaze the whole thing with a clear glaze. Look up 'mishima'.