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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
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#79984 Cost Or Running A Kiln .

Posted by neilestrick on 24 April 2015 - 09:00 AM

I have no idea what electricity costs where you live, but that seems outrageous and inaccurate. Most kilns in the US can be fired for under $15. HERE is a handy way to estimate the cost. My big 21 cubic foot electric costs me about $35 per firing to cone 6.

#79957 Water And Different Clay Bodies

Posted by neilestrick on 23 April 2015 - 07:30 PM

Different clays dry differently depending on their makeup. Porcelain dries quickly, because it is low in clay, which holds the water better than the other ingredients.


Pres, yes, the more humid the environment is, the higher the moisture content when a piece is bone dry. But I'm doubtful it's enough to require a different firing schedule unless it's really super humid, like it's in a root cellar with standing water on the floor, in which case a short preheat wouldn't hurt.

#79845 Ian Currie Test Tiles Forums?

Posted by neilestrick on 22 April 2015 - 09:34 AM

I make functional work, so I focus my efforts on food safe glazes. I guess what I'm getting at is that the grid can be used in a multitude of ways, to achieve very broad or very specific results. It's a wonderful tool.


I use Hyperglaze glaze calc software. It has a function where you can plug any glaze into the limit formulas and adjust them easily. 4 corners of a grid can be done in a matter of minutes. It even has a quadraxial blend function. I think glaze cal software is worth every dime. It's a great way to catalog your glazes, it saves a ton of time when working with formulas, and it enables you to see what's really going on with a glaze. Unity formulas are far more informative than recipes.

#79792 No Tare Beam ;-(

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2015 - 11:56 AM

If the seller won't accept the return, file a complaint with PayPal. They have a category specifically for 'Item Not as Described'.

#79735 Newbie Bat Help?!

Posted by neilestrick on 20 April 2015 - 02:05 PM

You shouldn't need a bat for anything under 3 pounds or so, which the exception of plates. It's good to learn how to remove pots from the wheel head. Bats are pricey, and take up a lot more room on the shelf. Not good when you get into making a lot of work.

#79733 Advice On Drilling A Larger Thermocouple Hole

Posted by neilestrick on 20 April 2015 - 01:59 PM

Yep, the bit will follow the existing hole.

#79583 How Often To Clean Your Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 April 2015 - 06:31 PM

I shouldn't tell you this, but I've got almost 1000 firings on my smaller kiln and I've probably only vacuumed it out about 10 times.

#79545 Glaze Squirt On Kiln Shelves

Posted by neilestrick on 17 April 2015 - 09:43 AM

Small spots on the shelf are likely from spitting, and can be caused by the boron. Large spots on the shelf and bare spots on the pots are different. When the glaze pulls away leaving bare clay we call that 'crawling'. It can happen when glazes are overlapped if the second dip is applied when the first dip is still too wet, or too dry. It can also be caused by the surface tension of the glaze during the firing, glaze thickness,  firing parameters, etc. Floating blue can be prone to lots of different problems, including crawling.

#79417 Turned Foot Rings On Mugs; Elegance Or Affectation?

Posted by neilestrick on 15 April 2015 - 03:49 PM

I turn a foot ring into almost every pot. I think it shows a level of care in the maker. A couple of forms that I make don't allow for it because I simply cannot turn them over to trim, but most do. I do not necessarily define a raised foot on the outside of the pot, but I do trim a foot ring on the bottom.


Rayaldridge, I agree with Mark that the foot on your mug is a little small. It feels like it would be tippy. In reality it is probably not, but it's all about proportions and perceptions. I think the handle is just fine, though. On a small mug you only need to get one or two fingers in it. I think a larger handle would overwhelm the form, and there's just not room for a larger handle without it being a big loopy thing.

#79281 Oxygen Sensor/probe - Commercial Vs Homemade Auto Sensor

Posted by neilestrick on 14 April 2015 - 09:28 AM

Like Marc said, the oxy probe will do nothing to help with evening out reduction. That's a kiln issue, and your type of kiln has lots of evenness issues. It could, in theory, help with over all efficiency so you're not reducing more than you need to, but that would only work with a kiln that can handle adjustments without throwing everything else out of whack.


When I reduce, I stall out the kiln so it's not climbing in temperature at all, and let it reduce for 45 minutes. Then I put it into light reduction and start climbing again. With your kiln, I would go very slowly up to body reduction to try and keep the temperature even, then reduce the crap out of it, stalling it out. In a kiln that size it shouldn't be too difficult to get reduction throughout the kiln if you stall it out.

  • Diz likes this

#79070 Pottery Add

Posted by neilestrick on 11 April 2015 - 10:18 AM

Or, as I tell my students, shut up and throw.

#79012 Pottery Add

Posted by neilestrick on 10 April 2015 - 03:18 PM


I think one of the hardest things to do is to focus on just one thing. The older and wiser I get the easier this is becoming.

You have to know your limitations. I love all of the interesting glazes that you glaze gurus can come up with, but my heart is not in 600 fired test tiles.

I know mine either. The problem was changing from cone 10 reduction to cone 6 oxidation. We moved from Oregon to North Carolina and my gas kiln rattled to death on the trip. It is hard to get gas in NC and we have been living in a rental for five years.

 I am not dead yet and refuse to give up!!



(aka Maddmudder, aka Bethbw13

Had some serious puter problems)



I made the switch to cone 6 oxidation about 7 years ago, and wish I had done it much sooner. I do not miss reduction firing at all, and find cone 6 to have many more options for color. The other nice thing about working with electric kilns is that I can run glaze tests in my little baby test kiln rather than waiting for the big kiln to fill up. That just wasn't an option when I only had a big gas kiln. I can fire several tests a week now, and develop a glaze in a couple of weeks instead of months. The transition was definitely stressful, but it was also a lot of fun to jump into something new.


Firing gas is definitely more romantic than pushing the 'On' button, and there a few things that can be done that won't work in an electric, but for most people it's just not practical any more. Building codes have made it all but impossible to do anywhere other than a commercial setting or an unincorporated area. An even then, there's a lot of hoops to jump through. Although I was already strongly considering making the switch to electric kilns, I was ultimately forced to do it when I had to move my shop. I just couldn't find another commercial space that would allow me to install my gas kiln, or one in which it was affordable to run the gas line and venting system.


Sorry to hijack the thread!

#79011 Pottery Add

Posted by neilestrick on 10 April 2015 - 02:58 PM

Finally, I'll rail against the idea that making your own glazes is difficult or expensive.  One thing that always annoys the dickens out of me is to see a glaze that has 15 or 20 components, and all are detailed down to two decimal points.  It ain't necessary, folks.  If a glaze works with 6.23 percent talc. it'll work with 6 percent talc (and if it doesn't, it's a lousy glaze, not worth the effort.)  I'm currently working with slips that are just porcelain trimmings from the wheel, with colorants and other oxides added in small amounts, and they work great, as far as I can tell.  They fit my leatherhard pots perfectly, too.  It only takes a few pounds of various inexpensive things to make a perfectly useful glaze, and some folks make glazes out of stuff you can get at the hardware store or dig out of your backyard.  There are some truly magnificent glazes made out of nothing but wood ash and clay.



Bingo! When I teach my glaze formulation class, we make glazes that only have 4 or 5 ingredients. We make some really great, interesting, durable glazes with just koalin, flint, and 2 fluxes.There is a massive variety of glazes that can be made from 10 primary ingredients (plus colorants, of course). With a good gloss glaze and a good magnesium matte, you can create a huge palette of surfaces.

#78949 Pottery Add

Posted by neilestrick on 09 April 2015 - 07:40 PM

I'd love to be in the position to make my own glazes, but available space, at this time, prevents it. My [so called] studio is a small 10'x12' shed that I share with my husband and all of his tools. For some of us, we don't really have the choice to house  multiple 5 gallon buckets of glaze, nor the raw materials in bulk.That doesn't make us foolish. It just means that we've learned to work within the confines of our environment. ;)


I didn't mean to say that folks who use commercial glazes are foolish. My apologies if it sounded that way. For many people it's the best option. But for that guy to say he didn't have time to mix glazes was foolish.

#78935 Pottery Add

Posted by neilestrick on 09 April 2015 - 02:52 PM

That guy isn't very good at time and money management. Premixed glazes are formulated for brushing, which takes 20 (40,50,100?) times longer to apply than dipping. A dip takes 6 seconds. Whatever time he would take mixing his own glazes would be more than made up for in the speed of application. And the money savings alone would allow him to make and sell fewer pots for the same profit margin, or would increase his profits. Plus his pots would be more unique if he developed his own palette. Foolish.


This reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with my merchant services provider. We were talking about monthly fees for mobile credit card processing, like everyone uses at art fairs. I was telling her about a neighbor I had at at fair a couple of years ago who was selling handmade felt hats for women. Her typical hat was $40, and she didn't take credit cards. She said she didn't want to pay the monthly fee or processing fee, that it was unfair. I saw her lose at least 4 sales the first day because the customer wanted to pay with a credit card. So to save less that $20 in fees, she lost out on $160 in sales. Foolish.


You gotta do the math!