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  1. I am just curious is anyone has specific songs, or types of music they like to listen to while working in the studio? I remember that when I fist did pottery in Japan my instructor always had music playing in the background. So what do you listen to? Josh
  2. I would suggest checking out the library. I know it sounds odd in this computer age but my local library has a lot of books. But I will give you a few that I have enjoyed. A Potter's Book by Bernard Leach If you are into slip casting then The essential guide to mold making & slip casting by Andrew Martin is good. Finally, I am thinking about setting up my own small studio in my garage and The potter's alternative by Harry Davis has a lot of do it yourself equipment designs for making your own tools. Josh
  3. Thanks for your replies. It is so interesting to see how others think about a subject. Marcia - Thanks for the idea about the hinge. Many of the tools in my woodworking shop use this method, but I had not considered it for this project. I agree that slaking the clay would work just fine, however it would be easier for me to weigh out various amounts of dry powdered clay. It would also make it easier to store because it would be more compact. My main desire for using the ball mill on clay is for slip making. I would hope that being able to measure the dry clay accurately will help me make consistently good slip. Also, I am guessing that starting with powdered clay will reduce the number of chunks in my clay needing to be sieved out. Pres - Surely I don't need a ball mill, or any other fancy tool. But I am an engineer and I enjoy the process of designing and building. Pottery is a hobby that lets me build things with my hands and bring life into the clay, but what I love is the creation. Building the equipment for my pottery studio gives me the same joy. Also, a ball mill is hardly complicated to make. I suspect that most people have the parts lying around and could make one in an afternoon. Youtube is proof of this. For me get an idea in my head and then let it bounce around for a few weeks. I think about it on and off each day, I spend some time reading on the internet, talking with fellow tinkers and start to keep my eyes open for various parts. Then if after a few weeks or years I decide now is the time to build it I do. One of the reasons I like building my own equipment is because I learn so much in the process of making it. I learn how the ball mill works, what makes it work better or worse. I think so many people just buy a tool and never even read the manual. I can't blame them, the manuals are usually so bland. Because I am engineer I enjoy learning how and why it works. Additionally, the ideas I get from researching and building a project may help me to solve some problem at work. I guess it just boils down to I love to build things. One final thought about the ball mill. I have a few other projects and interests that a ball mill would be a handy thing to have. It is a glorified rock tumbler, can be useful for making smooth glass or sea glass, people who make black powder use them often, and making my own glazes as well. I could have a different jar for each project and just use the base to drive them. I guess that is why I was interested.
  4. I went to my local library and checked out 'The Potters Alternative' by Harry Davis as suggested. We have a pretty large ceramics sections despite the small size of our town. It is a great book and has a lot of detail about building your own ceramics equipment. Now I am starting to think maybe I can make some more of this equipment as well. I plan on taking a lot of photos and posting them as I build. But I have to wait until I get moved and setting in a bit. Thanks again for the suggestion. Josh
  5. That is a neat idea, but I am also planning on building a treadle kick wheel. 1/2 hp motors are all over the place and I have a few sitting in my garage. So I like the idea of flipping a switch and letting it run while I am working in the studio. It might be a little loud, but if I build it into the bench I can muffle the sound a lot. But it is nice to know that this tool is not unheard of in the ceramic world. The two studios I used to go to never used one. josh
  6. I believe the issue is actually that there are two kinds of relays. Mechanical and solid-state. I'm and engineer by trade so I don't know a whole lot about kilns specifically, however the components used to control them are what my masters degree was in. Basically, a mechanical relay has a little electro-magnet that pulls a metal tab into contact with a second tab. I have never seen a single one of these that was not inside a plastic cube (these are nicknamed 'icecube relays'). The since it is moving back and forth you hear the click when it connects. The more they click the sooner they wear out. But they are really cheap and easy to replace, just plugs into a socket. They shouldn't get hot and cooling them will not help their life. It is possible that they get hot if too much power is being run through them, but that would be because the relay was not rated for the load. But again they are inside a plastic box so a fan wouldn't help them. On the other hand a solid state relay is a fancy transistor and will get hot. All integrated circuits get warm and have a temperature that they will fail at. So you want to keep them cool. This is usually done with a heat sink / heat spreader and fan. Basically its a block of aluminum with fins on it to help transfer the heat away. Not all chips need these, but many must have them. Basically its the same as your computer. If you look inside you can see heat spreaders and fans to keep parts cool. I would bet that the person who designed the kiln did the calculations to see if they needed these head spreaders and / or fans. That being said if your kiln is in a hot location like a garage in the middle of summer in Texas, that might not be the conditions the designer intended. So running a fan over them would help. The control circuits are not really a 'relay', it drives the relays but I could see how many people would call the whole electronics section the 'relays'. These electronics can also get hot and fail and a fan would help to cool them off too, which could increase the life of the electronics. But again is the air flow actually going over the area that is hot? I would bet it is in a box and the air is not really helping. So that is a bunch of mumbo jumbo that doesn't really help you. LOL. Here is what I would do: Listen for clicking when the kiln is running. If there is a regular clicking sound then you have a mechanical relay and a fan will not help them at all. but they are cheap and easy to replace, many just plug in. Check the electronic box to see if it is getting really hot. You can put your hand on it and feel. If you can keep your hand on it, then the electronics are plenty cool enough. The parts inside might be getting hot, and I don' t advocate opening it while it is running unless you know what you are doing. But you could also epoxy some heat spreaders onto any ICs that were hot. You can buy them online and just glue them on. Make sure to use thermal epoxy so it can conduct heat. AGAIN DO NOT OPEN THE ELECTRONIC BOX UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING! I believe many of these are 220v. But you could run the kiln and then unplug it open the electronics box and put your fingers on the tops of the black chips. If there is room to epoxy a heat spreader then that might help. But if your electronics are working fine I seriously doubt that you need it. most electronics run better the cooler they are, I don't know why you would warm them up in the winter unless you were worried about water condensing on them. But instead of warming them up I would just make sure it was water tight. Those are my thoughts. Those of you who are more knowledgeable about kilns can put me in my place now. josh
  7. Hello all, I have this idea about making a slip mixer / reclaimer. Slip works best when it is made just right, but I find that mine is hard to keep this way. It dries out as I use it and small chunks keep getting in it. Also, I hate trying to mix it up before I use it with a drill and jiffy mixer. So after a little research I saw the Lehman 30b reclaimer. Here is a link: Model 30B And another link to the assembly instructions instructions The price tag of $675 is a little high for me and after a little reading I think I can build one for less then $200. A few things sparked my interest and make me think this is actually very easy. The first is that it uses a standard 1/2 hp motor and these easy to find. The second is that the tank is a standard 30 gallon drum. These are also very common. So my plan is to get my hands on one of these drums and reinforce the top and mount the motor in the center. Then I will use a shaft coupler to attach a 24" stainless steel shaft with the propeller on it. Finally I will add a fitting and faucet to the bottom of the tank. I have found all the parts and listed them on my website. Slip Mixing Tank I am curious to hear all your thoughts. josh
  8. Hello all, I am working on a little project and thought perhaps it would be useful for others and perhaps those with more experience could let me know if I am making any lame brained assumptions. Thanks in advance. My project is a do it yourself ball mill for ceramics. For those of you who have never heard of a ball mill they are very efficient at pulverizing things into a fine powder. They are often used in chemistry as well as the making of homemade black powder. The basic idea is the material to be turned into powder and a 'media' are put in a drum and rotated. The media is usually some kind of heavy ball, typically lead or stainless steel. But could really be anything heavy and harder then what you want to grind up. For more information you can read the wikipedia page on ball mills. I stumbled across this machine and it made me think of two very nice uses in the ceramics studio. The first is to crush up my scrap clay for reclaiming. I just started slip casting and have a bucket that I toss anything I don't like into. Since I am new to casting there is a lot in the bucket. My thought is that grinding this bone dry clay into powder would make it easy to store and weight out for reclaiming into slip again. The second use I thought of was to process my own materials for glaze, such as limestone or quartz. I am not keen on crushing up rock by hand and would instead just buy it. But if I could crush up 10 lb of limestone easily why would I buy it. My idea is very simple and cheap. I will use a 5 gallon bucket for my drum. It will sit on two rails which each have two roller blade wheels on it. One rail will be a drive rail and the other will just idle. Using whatever motor I can find I will rotate the drive rail, which will turn the bucket. The second rail will just support the bucket and keep it in place. I have seen this done a lot so I am very confident. A little wooden frame and some pulleys to get the speed correct and we are up and running. For grinding the clay I was thinking a plastic 5 gallon bucket and an old set of billiard balls. For the stone, I think I will need some kind of metal drum and some steel ball bearings or other similar steel ball. I am hoping that I can use the same drive mechanize for many buckets. One for white clay, another for red, yet another for stone. This will avoid contamination. I don't think the clay needs to get really small to be useful, but I could always sieve it and put it into another bucket with smaller steel balls to refine it more. Same for the stone. If it works well, I might even build a frame around it and turn it into a bench seat. Then the ball mill will be hidden away and not take up useable space when I dont need it. When I want to use it I will lift of the seat and have access to my ball mill. What do you all think? Josh
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