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Everything posted by neilestrick

  1. The bag walls have always been kiln shelves, but there were refractory pieces that rested on top of them designed to help disperse the flame. They were expensive and time consuming to make, and really didn't make much difference in the performance of the kiln, so I made the decision when I was Alpine manager to stop making them. At that time I also made the call to stop using kiln shelves for bag walls and switched to bricks since sometimes the shelves would warp so badly they would break out the door jambs where they were notched in. I also redesigned the burner system a bit by pulling the bu
  2. It looks to be in great condition. Check that the door bricks are solid. Check that the door jamb bricks are solid where the bag wall shelves notch into them. Get rid of those bag wall shelves and replace them with bricks if you buy it. The shelves will warp and break the door jambs. Check that the burner system is functioning, especially the FireEye modules. Those are not cheap. If you're doing this legit and getting a permit to install it, make sure the burner system meets current codes in your area for gas appliances. That kiln is not certified.Also make sure you can get the proper gas line
  3. The recipes for making your own underglazes will not work nearly as well as the commercial underglazes. Commercial underglazes are a pretty amazing thing: you can use them on wet, leather hard, bone dry or bisqued clay without flaking off, they are durable when dry, and they work with most glazes. To make a product that will do that requires a certain amount of additives, suspenders, binders and often some milling- things we potters don't generally have a lot of experience with or the equipment to do. So if you want your underglaze to behave like a commercial underglaze, it's probably not goin
  4. This is what I was thinking, which makes me surprised to hear Mark say he can't make a living in stoneware because his customers are informed enough to have a preference for porcelain. His customers may not have a clue why, but they prefer the look of his pots being made of porcelain. When you look at the pots at an art fair, the majority are made of stoneware, and have that stoneware look to them- matte/semi matte glazes, iron spots, earthier tones, etc. Porcelain pots stand out, and that helps sales. I have a lot of customers at art fairs who love that I use glossy glazes, and the
  5. The public is terribly uneducated about clays. Most won't even know what white stoneware is. This weekend I had someone ask if my pots were 'earthenware or ceramic'. I also often get asked if they are 'porcelain or clay'. They also don't get that stoneware can be thin and light, and porcelain can be heavy and chunky- their experience with stoneware has been hand made pieces, and their experience with porcelain has been factory produced slip cast pieces. But they assume porcelain is better because it is advertised as such, and all the most expensive, fanciest commercial pots are made of it.
  6. IMHO, if it has ball clay it's not porcelain, it's white stoneware. That's the dividing line. People add ball clay to make it more plastic and supposedly forgiving, but ball clay ruins everything that makes porcelain so unique and wonderful. Helios is a true English grolleg porcelain, no ball clay.
  7. I do not like 181 at all. Too much ball clay, prone to cracking, etc. If you want white but don't need it totally smooth go with 182, which has a bit of fireclay in it which makes it much nicer to work with and much more forgiving. For cone 6 try 240 for totally smooth, 630 has fireclay.
  8. I would rather throw porcelain than anything else. After working with it for so long I actually find it easier to work with than stoneware. Nothing feels like it. The lack of plasticity is a wonderful thing once you get used to it. There is a rubbery resistance to a good throwing porcelain that feels nothing like any other clay body. I don't think white stoneware clays have any real relationship to porcelain with the exception of the fact that most white stonewares are smooth and kind of whitish. Their makeup is totally different, and therefore they feel nothing like porcelain. Most white
  9. Glazed ware would survive better than unglazed. When water soaks into the piece and freezes, it cracks it apart from the inside. Your goal is to keep water from soaking in at all, which means either glazing the piece or firing it hot enough that it vitrifies. Cone 03 terra cotta will not do it, but many terra cottas will go up to cone 3 or 4 and get quite tight. If your kiln will only get to earthenware temps then it needs to be fixed. You're wasting a lot of electricity even if you're just firing to 03. Ideally you want to fire with a fine grained clay that vitrifies.
  10. Won't the olive oil go rancid at some point? Or does the beeswax seal and preserve it? Just wondering because I know vegetable oils should never be used to seal wood surfaces that come in contact with food, like cutting boards and butcher blocks, because the oil goes rancid.
  11. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/nov05/milk1105.pdf
  12. Downdraft vents are great! They pull just enough air from the kiln to remove fumes, mix it with lots of air from the room and expel it to the outdoors. Because of the mixing, the temperature of the ductwork stays below 150 degrees, no hotter that your clothes dryer vent.
  13. Etsy is now full of mass produced items. For instance, try finding hand made leather goods there and you'll see that 90% are from China or India or some other country with cheap labor. They put up a fake identity to make it look like it's a person in their studio making the work, but it's clearly factory made stuff. Yes, those pots were decorated by hand and probably formed by hand, too, but it was most likely done in a factory setting. Etsy is slowly turning in Amazon. I've lost a lot of respect for the site.
  14. Post the recipe and we'll se what we can do.
  15. Use cement board. It's basically a thin slab of cement with a mesh fabric inside for structural stability. It will do a great job preventing heat transfer and protecting the wood. The other great benefit of the cement board is that it is thin, about 5/16", so you won't be raising the kiln up a bunch. Creating air gaps using bricks and heat shields is great from an insulating standpoint, but is overkill. And if you have a 27" deep kiln, you will likely make the kiln too tall to load comfortably. You want at least 12 inches (preferably 18) clearance from the walls of any other combustible ma
  16. 2 layers of tile backer cement board, extending at least 6 inches beyond the edge of the kiln.
  17. Nope, never heard that. If you waited for the kiln to get below 100F before opening, it would take days. You've got to get the lid open at some point.
  18. I use a lot of water, but I throw quickly so it doesn't have much time to soak in and cause a problem. Once I get the clay pulled up, I scrape down the piece with a metal rib and shape the form. I don't add any water during the shaping process, so I can take my time if I need to. I teach my students to just dip their hands in the water while centering, and to use as much water as needed while pulling. If you work quickly your pots won't get over saturated.
  19. I would bisque at 04, and glaze anywhere from 06 to 04. Fire you glazes as hot as they can handle without running too much. Most low fire glazes handle 05 just fine, and many can go to 04.
  20. For manual kilns you do not need to heat it up. However you may want to put a space heater there to make loading less awful.
  21. Let's compare prices: Black stain is roughly $15 per pound, so a 10 pound (dry) batch of slip at 10% stain would cost you $15 in stain plus the price of the slip itself, which could be 50 cents per pound for porcelain, so another $5, which puts the whole batch at $20. Speedball black underglaze (which I use), one of the least expensive out there, is about $10 per pint, so you could buy 2 pints for the same $20. It comes very thick and needs to be watered down, so you could actually get at least 3 pints out of it. So 3 pints (conservatively) of underglaze for $20. How much slip does 10 pounds
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