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  1. h a n s e n == Thanks for the additional information. QUESTION: Can matte glazes create that "dry look" in an oxidation firing? I want to avoid reduction methods at first, in part because I may have to use an electric kiln initially... (Humble suggestion to all: don't quote long posts [absurdly long quotes, in my case] in your own illuminating replies. It makes the thread unnecessarily long and visually confusing, thereby obscuring the gems of information you contribute. Just delete unnecessary quoted content before typing your own comments. Merely a suggestion in the interest of effectively communicating so much EXTREMELY HELPFUL information) Tom
  2. bptakoma == How nice to hear from Takoma Park, Maryland! I used to live not far from there before relocating to dead center of the nation (which really is quite lively as it turns out). I hope Takoma Park still has its enclaves of quirkiness. Years ago I recall driving one short stretch of road that designated that neighborhood a "nuclear free zone." I used to chuckle then, and I am again, while typing this. Takoma Park is an interesting place. Good points all. I like your suggestion for carving masters in regular clay, and then press molding paper clay tiles. QUESTION: Can you point me in the direction of information on "durable plaster" - not structural, but perhaps something that might be durable to the extent that softwood moldings, door and window casings, etc are? Thanks, Tom
  3. h a n s e n == I don't mean to drag you through another slog. but am not sure I understood your last transmission. When/if you reply, may I suggest you delete my entire quoted remarks from your reply - for the sake of clarity? Too bad this forum doesn't allow us to choose whether to reply with-or-without quoted remarks, on a per-reply basis. Defining terms: I assume your use of the terms fire brick, refractory brick and soft brick all refer to the same material. And you seem to have said the fiber blanket insulates better than those bricks. Am I right? Here's where I get quite lost: Are you saying the folded insulating blanket can be substituted in place of brick? Or that it cannot? I'm speaking in terms of firing Stoneware to Cone 7 maximum. Or perhpas you're suggesting wrapping the fiber blanket around the outside of a stacked refractory brick kiln - in order to maximize the bricks' temperature-holding ability. It seems to me a lightweight metal frame--perhaps a rebar armature constructed on the outside--with the insulating blanket attached to the underside of the armature might contain the heat well enough to keep the rebar from melting. Would such a "wigwam" not be far lighter, more easily reconfigured and more easily moved than stacked brick? I appreciate your help (and patience), Tom
  4. Hey, Matt. The #1 problem is that I ask TOO MANY QUESTIONS in a single post. They're all related to one another, and the combined answers do form a unified (albeit complex) strategy that helps me a lot. There really IS a Method to My Madness, but when I read this thread from the beginning, I too get slightly lost. But many, many thanks to h a n s e n for tackling my "tidal wave of ignorance". The #2 problem is that some of us leave the entire quoted coments to appear in our replies. My posts are too long, containing multiple quotes and responses. When several other members reply to that, and each reply contains my entire multi-point preceding post...the thread becomes garbled and diluted. It's MY fault. Apologies to all. So I hereby commit to asking one question per post. And maybe others will commit to editing down the quoted comments that appear in their replies...? Since I'm so interested in large-scale, architectural work, perhaps I should construct a ceramic Tower of Babble...(shakes head) Tom
  5. Thanks very much for that suggestion, Denise. In fact, I tried to buy a used electric kiln (approx 24' x 24" internal dimensions) locally as an interim solution, but was unsuccessful. I responed to Craig's List ads, but received either no reply or replies that refused to answer important questions. Eventually I did run across the "Test Kiln" concept as an alternative, though I haven't figured out who makes a good one at a fair price. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS? In my 'natural state' (ignorance) my plan is to use a natural gas kiln for oxidation firing primarily - opting for gas mostly because it's less expensive to run and will let me construct my own unique kiln size to suit my needs. Certainly I don't know, but I'm hoping an electric oxidation firing will produce glaze results very similar to the same oxidation firing in a gas kiln... If so, the test kiln seems to be a GREAT idea. Thanks, Denice, Tom
  6. Experience and skill...and LUCK, it seems. THANKS for the book suggestion. It's exactly on point. My planned work looks very different from his/hers, but the techniques will translate, I'm sure. $80 for the book is pretty steep. When I get to the point where I'm going to try a seven-foot flat section, I'm sure $80 will look like money well spent (and how!). I'm looking carefully at their doorways, and I see where the cut lines are. Maybe this'll help me find a way to avoid such long lengths... Thanks again for the link, Chris. Very instructive and very helpful. I'll be searching for more examples by both those artists . Tom
  7. This thread's most concise comment so far. LOL Another gem, with a quality similar to, "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore..." More LOL h a n s e n, I truly appreciate your perspective and insights. You're right on the money, as are Carl and both Chrises. Thanks all, for helping me sort this out now, before I make costly mistakes. At present I'm resigned to working with readily available 'off the shelf' materials. Good point, though. My instincts suggested exactly that, which is why I'm asking all these obtuse questions <grin>. I take your comments to mean: low fire will be ruled out and Cone 10+ will be required IF I require a washable, durable object that is NOT glazed. As I hope to fire at cone 6 or 7 max, your comments seem to indicate a need for glazing. Am I reading you correctly? Admittedly my perspect is entirely 'book learned' thus far, based in part on reading Rosette Gault's Paper Clay: A Studio Companion for Sculptors. She advises that paper clay is particularly good at remaining flat during firing. I guess that may be a relative statement, depending on many factors, not the least of which is the size/length of the flat object to be fired(?) For example, Gault suggests that a long flat object may be loaded into the kiln with its ends resting on two shelves and its middle spanning open space. She advises sprinkling sand on the shelves to enable the piece to shrink, unencombered by surface tension, etc. I have no expereince to confirm or deny such claims, and I would LOVE to hear from anyone who does. You may laugh, but I hope to make flat objects as long as 7 FEET(!). Am I completely delusional in that regard? Ahhhh, The PEARL of your post. ADMITTED FACT: I really need to research what is possible with modern glazes. I want to employ the appearance of unadorned, natural clay. My plan has been to glaze some surface areas--perhaps with a transparent wash or a clear glaze--and leave other areas unglazed (or perhaps just appearing unglazed, per your comments). PLEASE ADVISE: Are you saying clear glazes are available 1) that are appropriate for Cone 6 firing of stoneware? 2) that would appear as though the object were not glazed, and in its natural state? 3) that would provide water-resistance and durability, hopefully in line with my plans? If glazes are readily available that can accomplish all that, then I might be able to use a Cone 6 stoneware clay body. Yes? Books on glazing and firing have already been recommended to me (thanks, all). If your answers to enumerated questions 1,2,3 above are all in the AFFIRMATIVE, I will have to start reading those books... Thanks, Tom BIG FOLLOW-UP QUESTION Are there subtle glazes (or underglazes?) conforming to 1,2,3 above that could make a tan stoneware look like a white stoneware? If I could apply that, and then apply another glaze over it--to specific areas only--I think I might be on my way.
  8. I've never heard of that. Thanks for the idea, Carl. I'll stop in and ask the librarian. I've found three studios so far. One has several unvented electric kilns, so they don't want to fire paperclay. The other two have immense gas kilns, but it's impossible to pin those guys down on details (talking hypothetically, in advance). The answer to pretty much every question is, "It varies" which may be accurate, but makes it difficult to plan a strategy. Funny you should mention that <grin>. I have indeed considered those in my 'quest'. So far, cement is so heavy that transport costs/complications become serious drawbacks. The relative light weight of paper clay would be a big advantage. I saw some "countertop cement" at a local home store yesterday, though. Looks like it has potential... Plaster is heavy too, but my real concern there is durability. It seems kinda delicate to me. And I'd like not to be boxed into casting only. I want the freedom to do high relief with undercuts, and flexible molds in large (or largish) scale seems expensive and perhaps not feasable. I appreciate your suggestions and any further replies you care to make. I've been chasing my tail on this material/method search for months now. I'm dizzy enough without it.
  9. Thanks, Matt. VERY helpful information. More research needed. Excuse me while I once again disappear down the rabbit hole of seeking the right clay for my intended purpose(s).
  10. I hear you loud and clear, and very much appreciate the wise advice. I appreciate and take seriously every word. My problem is that I'm being squeezed by financial/economic pressures. I must choose a direction and GO! But as you point out, there are some very serious technical issues involved in this line of endeavor. As I stated above, I WISH I could find a suitable "cold process" (without these firing complications) but after searching for a year, I came up empty handed... I don't have time for a lot of expimentation (the wolf is at the door) and the paperclay requires an additional SINTER firing to burn out the paper fiber prior to carving. At this early stage, I guess I'll have to have my work fired by others for a fee. But it'll be difficult to schedule my own unique "sinter firings" (and expensive, IF I can arrange it at all). So that pushes me toward building my own kiln, but the costs and the learning curve, etc are daunting, as you've pointed out. A real Catch 22. Hopefully I'll figure it out.
  11. THANKS for the suggested titles. Moving is a very trying experience. Sorry to add to the complication. So ramps = stages. Okay. Am I reading you correctly per the following sequence? 1) RAMP 1: 100F/hr to 200F = 2 hours 2) hold the temp for 1 hour = 1 hour 3) RAMP 2: 80F/hr from 200F to 1100F = 11.25 hours 4) RAMP 3: 350F/hr from 1100F to 1638F = 1.5 hours 5) RAMP 4: 108F/hr from 1638F to 1888F = 2.3 hours TOTAL FIRING TIME: approximately 18 hours Thank you. Yes, I understand very well. YOU should write a book! Thanks for the warning. I'll study the subject in hopes of firing once to reduce time, expense and complication (though the "increased risk" looms heavy) I'm very glad you made the distinction between the low-to-mid fire range, and the much larger energy requirements involved in mid-to-high fire range. Based on this advice, I'll try to focus on stoneware at Cone 7 and below. Very useful information. As stated before, I'll seek "STONEWARE CLAY BODY with a narrow firing range, that vitrifies nearly white at cone 6 or lower" As for well-insulating a kiln firing no higher than cone 7, I'm imagining stacked refractory/fire brick (as the fiber blanket approach seems to be limited to lower temps). Is there some type of insulation that can be safely added to the outside of the fire brick walls/top to hold heat in? I know I'll have to study up, but would appreciate a short answer if you're aware of anything suitable.
  12. Just a pottery class (wheel and hand building) back in college. I'm long on enthusiasm and ideas. Short on experience. Small town. Small library with limited, old selection. Been there, done that. I'll have to check The Potter's Shop per your suggestion. Thanks. Amen. I've made things from wood and from metal for years, but the rising price of both has pretty much shut that down. I set out to find a truly versatile sculpture material that's cheap and easy to come by. After a year's research, I've settled on clay, and maybe paper clay specifically. The only hangup for me is firing. I really don't want a kiln (might be relocating soon, etc) and having to fire objects is both a big complication and a potential for problems. Also, I don't like marrying myself to a component (fuel) that may become extremely expensive, or entirely unavailable. I WISH there were a "cold" process that would enable adding and subtracting from a form without having to 'cook' it afterward (I want a salad, not a stir fry, LOL). And reasonable kiln size is a severe limitation against working large-scale. But I've found no more-suitable material/process, so I'm focused on the possibilities for hand building, carving and molding paperclay. I hope it's as versatile and non-problematic as it seems based on my reading. Agreed, as long as it doesn't cost $4 to glaze and fire it, LOL. Thanks, Chris. I see how creative and successful your own approach is. I hope to find similar creative energy/opportunity.
  13. GIVEN: - Stoneware A has a broad firing range, Cone 6 - 10 - Stoneware B has a narrow firing range, Cone 5 - 6 I take that to mean the following: - A vitrifies fully at cone 10 - B vitrifies fully at cone 6 QUESTION: Is A at cone 10 more vitrified (and stronger) than B at cone 6? Or are they basically equal in terms of vitrification and strength?
  14. Apologies for my impatience. It's really just enthusiasm plus a strong desire to get started. Point taken. Thanks for your helpful insights, Chris. I'm very process-oriented but ignorant regarding these technical issues. Can you (or anyone here) suggest an online primer or book I can consult in order to bring myself up to speed? Thanks for confirming the superior strength of vitrified stoneware vs. earthenware, especially when unglazed. It sounds like stoneware at cone 6 might be optimal for me: suitable strength and durability at minimal temperature, with minimal fuel costs and (maybe) reduced kiln construction costs. I understand the gist, but would appreciate a clarification: Q1. What does this mean, "...at a firing rate of 108F per hour during the final ramp"? I think it describes a carefully monitored temperature change, but I don't understand the specifics. Clearly I need to study up, but appreciate any elaboration in the meantime. Again I did not understand the significance of these issues. I thought a broad firing range was a 'pure benefit' because I didn't realize strength and color would vary based on firing temps within that range.... Duh. Q2. So is this right? I need a STONEWARE CLAY BODY with a narrow firing range, that vitrifies nearly white at cone 6 or lower. If I cannot find something that fires nearly WHITE, I could substitute two options instead: a gray (cool) and a buff/tan (warm). This kind of advice from someone who knows is most helpful. I'm "100% theoretical" at this point and I understand what a handicap that is. Q3. I've read that in some cases bone dry paper clay can be glazed and fired in a single firing. Is that accurate? Are there special considerations or conditions? Q4. "The cost difference between earthenware and stoneware when once fired is very little". Assuming I can single-fire my work--glazed and unglazed-- are you referring to the fuel cost specifically? Are you saying it takes just a little more fuel to fire the stoneware? Lastly, point taken on the difficulty of working with porcelain. I had already ruled it out for now (in line with your comments). As my skills develop I may experiment later on. Thanks a LOT, Tom
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