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Everything posted by perkolator

  1. 3x Skutt 1227, Skutt 1027, Skutt 818, 2 Skutt test kilns (614 and 609), Faculty Bailey/Aim oval kiln. Also 3 Bailey downdrafts: 18/12 deluxe, Shuttle SH-54, and a custom 130 trackless. All my electrics are nearing 20 years old in a college setting - pretty awesome I'd say. Of the electrics I'd say the 1027 and 818 are the most used in our studio -- perfect size for a single sculpture or section of larger piece (we work life-size). The test kilns also get used a lot too for glaze testing. We fire the 2 big gas kilns at minimum a dozen times per year each. We also went through approximately 10-tons of dry clay last year for 5 classes (we mix our own clay).
  2. Thanks guys. Testing will happen soon, side by side against the old cobalt I've got in inventory. I'm thinking it's going to be....BLUE! hahaha The source is Arlington International. I'd never heard of them before, but a colleague forwarded me an email before xmas regarding a sale on cobalt carb. Couldn't beat the 10# for $160 shipped, so I figured why not. Even if it's only half as potent it's still a better deal than a 5# price from anywhere else. Cobalt is so freaking potent as-is, I'm not really that concerned.
  3. Anyone ever used a cobalt carbonate that specifies it's 46% on the MSDS? I ordered a "good deal" on some cobalt carb and can't say I've ever seen it as 46% on the data sheet (usually it says 100%). Molecular formula is the normal CoCO3 I'm used to seeing. Not seeing anything on any of the paperwork that suggests there is a "filler". Was purchased from Arlington International and it's made in China. Have not yet tested it, but visually it looks like the same pink/purple powder I'm used to seeing in the jar.
  4. Are you using one of these? Do you roll this bin around frequently? Also, how do you store clay inside - do you mix it and just deposit it inside, or is it bagged up? If you're "digging" out your clay from a walled tub, that's gotta get old real quick - I'd suggest you get a new system that allows access to the sides of the clay. Could be as simple as a platform/furniture dolly with a big storage bag sitting on top (that's what we do, only it's scaled up to 4ft pallet size) Consider ditching the casters and let it sit on the ground (or mounted on a pallet) and move it around with a pallet jack. Heavy ceramics is going to need a pallet jack at some point, might as well get one. Otherwise, try and fabricate a new base from metal and put the best casters you can afford under it, maybe even 6 casters instead of 4. Steel wheeled casters tend to hold the most weight and guess what, they don't flat spot. I can't see it rolling on its own unless you have sloped floors, so no brake is necessary, just wheel chocks. Overkill is always best, so definitely make it hold 2x your intended mass. We use trash cans to store reclaim clay - they get rolled around dirty floors, cracks and seams in the concrete, etc and hold over 350# each I'd guess. The caster base is VERY simple and could easily be fabricated to fit a variety of containers. Casters can easily be swapped out to a different style/brand/size/etc. The ones below are at least 30yrs old and going strong. I've noticed in general that the Rubbermaid/Brute tubs don't really hold up due to the weight of ceramic materials and because they flex. We do have a few rubbermaid cans currently, but you can see they're no longer on the bases made for them. One shallow nick or cut on these cans usually ends up in a replaced container within a year, that's why the rest of our cans are metal and going on 40-50yrs. The only issue with the metal cans is over time the galvanized metal can possibly flake off. A good alternative might be a thick rubber livestock water trough/stock tank.
  5. yes you can store clay outdoors -- where do you think clay comes from??? lol. You WILL need to defrost your clay in winter if you plan to put it in the pugmill or any other mixing equipment. That would be a very expensive repair should it break your new fancy equipment. A simple shed, carport, frost blanket, etc could be all you need to keep it workable in dead winter - what do I know, I'm from California! Think about getting yourself a couple of furniture dollies and put a piece of plywood over them - store your clay on these and you can easily roll them around studio. That's how we store boxed up clay. We mix our own sculpture body and store it like this. It's never around long enough to dry out, or unless someone carelessly leaves it open. Volume on the pallet is maybe 3500+lbs and sits inside a 6 mil pallet bag. During high production times, we consume this much clay about every 10 days I'd guess:
  6. DO NOT use grease, WD-40, vaseline or any other oil-based substance like suggested above, as your mold release. The whole point of using plaster is to take advantage of the capillary/wicking action of the material, to pull water from the clay and set it up faster - if you go and use something oil-based as a mold release, you've now clogged the pores and severely diminished capillary action, if any at all. Use actual "mold soap" or purelube/greensoap, which are the products that should be available from any ceramics supply. Alternative is diluted Murphy's Oil Soap.
  7. I looked into Advancer shelves about 2yrs ago when I was looking to buy some new shelves for our gas kilns. I was considering the Advancers because of all the advantages everyone praises them for. Ended up NOT getting the Advancer shelves due to the way we stack our kilns by using full hard brick as opposed to posts and in a 2/4-point vs 3-point support configuration - I didn't know of this being a problem before, but do now. May help someone else's decision in the future. The reasoning for this is because "Advancer shelves are so thin (5/16â€) and dense (<1% porosity), they have very little capacity to store heat. This has led to problems with thermal shock due to the amount of heat stored in the corners of the shelves sandwiched between the hard bricks relative to the rest of the shelf. On cooling it is possible for the rest of the shelf to cool off sufficiently to create a significant enough temperature gradient across the shelf leading to uneven contraction (1%) and breakage. For this reason we do not recommend using anything larger than a soap for a post. This minimizes the contact area sufficiently to avoid this problem." - Marshall Brown, SSFBS. We could still use kiln wash on the Advancers and it was actually recommended to dip the ends of posts/bricks in wash. We can't really change the way we load, due the work produced in studio and the kilns we have, so I ended up just staying with the regular Crystolon RC-4128 Oxide-bonded SiC shelves in a 12"x28"x3/4". They are made by Saint-Gobain in India and get imported to Minneapolis. The alternative was the Crystolon CN-192 Oxide-bonded SiC shelves made by Saint-Gobain in Worchester, MA. With all quality kiln shelves, you have to pay to play...and they're only going up in price. Best pricing was from Smith-Sharpe Fire Brick Supply/kilnshelf.com and I was also looking for a few dozen shelves. Wholesale pricing is in the thousands of units, so definitely no discounts on such a low volume such as mine/yours. Our regular shelves still ended up well over $100 each + shipping, still not cheap but nowhere near the Advancer pricing. I will comment that the "other" kiln furniture Advancer produces look legit. I drool every time I see some of the industrial kilns using Advancer beams, tubes, racks, etc.
  8. why cover it up at all? personally i would suggest you leave everything exposed and simply paint it all white. here in CA its become the "hot thing" to have exposed ceilings in commercial buildings, galleries, restaurants, etc and I see no difference doing it in a basement - but then again i don't know what your basement looks like leaving things exposed will not only allow you access to plumbing, electrical, etc, but you gain more vertical height and have full access to all your joists above in case you need to suspend something in your studio space below. for lighting, i wouldn't hesitate to install LED lighting. it's simply where we're at with modern tech and doesn't make sense to go backwards. i was just at Costco last weekend and saw fluorescent-style LED shop lights for $30 and contemplated swapping out my entire garage for them. haven't looked at catalogs yet, but if costco carries them at good prices you for sure can find them cheaper at an electrical supply. these are not the replacement LED bulbs that go into fluorescent fixture, but instead a true LED fixture. all over my campus they've replaced lights with LEDs and they are RIDICULOUSLY bright in person. i want to say the spectrum is somewhere near 6000k, since they look like pure white/daylight instead of the yellow you get from fluorescents. have seen people use them in warehouses and shops - lit up like a stadium, awesome!
  9. thanks to all. i think i'm going to thin down some kiln cement to milk consistency and brush some on after spraying down the bricks. i've done this to re-coat sections of kiln floors when glaze removal leaves exposed soft brick (i do use kiln wash too, but it doesn't stop the bad glaze drips or certain glazes)
  10. Wondering if anyone uses coatings to help protect the top rim of soft brick in their electric kilns? Lately I've been having lots of abrasion wear on top rim of my kilns for some reason, not sure if it's careless loaders or short people, haha. Was considering using a coating of some sort, to help resist the wear a little bit, since I just replaced a lot of brick several months ago. Not sure what coating would be ideal in this location - thinned kiln mortar/cement, ITC coating, kiln wash, the fancy colloidal silica recipe mentioned in this forum, etc are what come to mind. I have seen people make fancy plywood jigs that protect the kiln when loading - perhaps I'll make some, but I still want to know about coatings. Thanks!
  11. Cleaning sink trap has got to be #1 only based on the smell. A very close contender is making a batch of clay with a super-smelly reclaim barrel which smells as bad as a sink trap, because it's full of dead skin cells, newspaper bits, etc and has been sitting in the sun for a few weeks....and you're putting your bare hands in it...and your head goes into or very close to the trash can because you're reaching to the bottom...at least with the sink trap you can use a wet-vac and cover your nose with the free-hand.
  12. clay or refractory mold is the only material i can think of that would work for repeated use.
  13. since we essentially duplicate the process of forming rocks, all of our ceramics is permanent and will be here until it melts again with some great force of energy. maybe some sort of ultra hot explosion from warfare, volcano or lava flow, or perhaps heat from asteroid colliding with Earth. with that said, there is a lot of terrible ceramics out there that will be here forever.
  14. i've never colored my wax, but sometimes add color to my glazes and slips since i'm colorblind and can't easily see some layers. my recommendation in this case is to try powdered food coloring or powdered water color pigments (or even acrylic) - they work quite well, store forever, and will likely not have this issue.
  15. yes, you can repeatedly apply/build up a layer of slip on a piece of wire (or even a nail) embedded in your clay. the artists I know of who do this use something like a syringe or squeeze bottle to apply. since the wire inside is rigid, and the clay needs to shrink around it, it's hit or miss in regards to the cracking you'll get.
  16. I'm pretty sure to do the sharpie mugs, you simply draw on a glazed item and then bake it on - no messing with the underlying glaze at all, so not sure where you got the idea of the etching. My wife did this with her class once and they all came out successful for what it is. It's not "permanent" like true glaze is, it does come off with a good amount of abrasion, like even my fingernail if I wanted it off. Other products to do similar things would be a Pebeo Porcelaine china paint pen, which is made to bake on at home oven temps - it is also not permanent, but I believe it's more resilient than Sharpie.
  17. any smooth-sided cylindrical form on the inside (cardboard tube from paper, sonotube for casting cement, PVC, ABS, anything...) roll out slab with machine or make by hand, put layer of newspaper between clay and form to prevent sticking and to aide in slipping it out. cut a straight edge on slab, then roll it over form (like how you pickup up dough with rolling pin) to make slight impression where the seam will be - then cut both ends at a 45* angle so you get a nice flat seam with most surface area for good contact. the tip Marcia gave regarding cradling the slab with tar paper is a good one - great for when you cannot roll the tube over the slab and need to apply it to a vertical form.
  18. glazes/underglazes don't really "go bad". reconstitute and use them! if they're hard-panned in the jars, try a loop tool to break the material up and then blend it with blender/stick blender.
  19. a screen making alternative -- screen printing film. there is a printmaking class at my wife's HS and I always thought the students were making screens with emulsion, only to find out they are using some modern screen printing film. basically it's a transparent plastic film that they hand cut with razors. lay film on pre-stretched silk screen, then use this solvent/activator that fuses the film on the screen. it's quite genius stuff and is very quick to do. lasts just as long as traditional screens. sorry, don't know the exact product name. in our studio we use a Riso machine - basically it's a thermofax screen maker. make carbon-based photocopy of image (laser printer or copy machine), layer the ink-side against the thermal screen, run it through the Riso/thermofax. the plastic on the screen fuses with the ink, then you peel it off and are left with a clean screen to print with.
  20. our students do this all the time with both commercial tile and dinnerware from thrift stores. simply use low-fire commercial glazes and underglazes. decals also work. definitely make sure you test fire the object at the temp you plan on firing to BEFORE you do your entire kiln full of them - sometimes we'll come across a random tile or plate that looks all good, only to find a puddle where it sat in the kiln. also, not all colors work with this technique - for example greens with chrome sometimes don't fuse well or flux out with the existing glaze
  21. I just use a cold chisel and small hammer, with the shelf on a piece of foam so I don't break it. When the glaze stick really bad I bust out the grinder - I haven't upgraded to a proper diamond wheel, as my 4" cup seems to work fine as long as you don't let it glass over. 3 coats of wash may not be enough for some glazes. I typically keep washing shelves and build up a nice thick layer (1/8"+ sometimes). I don't fully remove old wash to the shelf unless it's coming off in big chunks or is severely uneven. The only glazes that really make their way through anymore are the ones that eat through almost anything - like glazes with lots of lithium. A tip: on pieces where you need to glaze to the bottom and don't/can't have a drip tray -- prop up the piece on pucks/kiln shelf pieces and then make a small "moat" of silica under the perimeter - this way the drips fall into the silica and you can clean up the bottom edge better.
  22. yep, open the foot pedal via the bottom plastic plate. inside there are two crews that control the stops of the potentiometer. manual explains it much better. if it was an issue of the wheel never stops or never starts - usually it's resulting after you drop the foot pedal - usual cause is either the plastic lever inside has somehow slipped off the potentiometer's lever arm, or the two plastic tabs on the main arm have broken off and no longer move the potentiometer. I have both of this fault happen at least once a year on my Brent wheels. this pic pretty much shows all the parts:
  23. crawle/textured glazes like this are dependent on how you apply - a thin spray will definitely look different than a single brushed layer. i think you will have to do some testing to learn to control it if you plan to spray and have never done it with this glaze. i've sprayed a crawl glaze a few times and it definitely gave a more even surface than when i traditionally would brush/pour/dip the same glaze - not necessarily a bad thing, but different. i used a Critter siphon feed sprayer so i could mix it thicker than what i'd typically have going through a different sprayer.
  24. ^this. being commercially made, the water content is likely where it needs to be, and the slip needs to be adjusted (with a deflocculant). sodium silicate or darvan would be a good place to start. perhaps decant some of the slip into another container and add a drop or two of darvan to see if it helps and go from there.
  25. yes, hardibacker or durarock or similar cement backer board that will not burn
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