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DeDe18

Firing Small Porcelain Beads

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Hello everyone, I find your site tremendously insightful and factual, and this is my first post here. I'm a fairly proficient handbuilder and sculptor but have never worked in porcelain. I need to know whether these lentil-shaped hollow beads will fall flat in the highfire glaze firing, with or without glaze. They are slightly larger than a quarter in diameter, and thickness varies from 11 to 13 mm.  A classmate at community college handbuilding class gave me the porcelain clay because I just wanted to see whether I prefer it for my hollow beads. They all have holes, not showing in pic. My concern stems from the fact that I had read that walls can collapse, in porcelain, if not exceeding 30 degrees angle. I did do a LOT of searching and reading, but could not find an answer.

Photo shows the bisqued hollow porcelain beads in the foreground, and in background are beads from my same molds, in my usual stoneware clay. I do have Kanthal wire which I usually use in my own, small, low-fire kiln but I'm sure the kiln tech at the college (with a vast volume of stoneware and porcelain pieces to fire) will not be game to be bothered with my little experiment so my intent is to just have her fire them on the shelf, unglazed, to maturity ... and then I will decorate them by other means, if I choose, after seeing the result (hoping to get some translucency?)

So, in summing up ... do you think these little lentils will collapse and go flat when fired to the porcelain clay's maturity? I believe it is Cone 6.  Thank you for any input!

porcelain beads.jpg

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Hi DeDe, don't worry about your beads they won't slump or distort unless you over fire the clay, i.e. you fire a cone 04 body to cone 6. It's porcelain so it's either a cone 6 or cone 10 clay, both of which would work in a cone 6 firing, though cone 6 glazes may craze on a cone 10 body. I would make some little stoneware bowls to fire your beads in, to keep them together and off the shelf. Sometimes porcelain will have 'plucking', where the piece will stick a bit to the shelf, picking up a bit of kiln wash with it. They seem to stick less to the stoneware bowls, I use a cone 10 stoneware for these and I've fired most of them a couple of dozen times in cone 6 firings. Most of the problems you see potters have with porcelain won't really see in small pieces like jewelry, it fires nearly identically to stoneware and has few if any problems at that size.

If you're the one loading the kiln in the future, maybe you could look into using some posts horizontally to hold your beads on kanthal wire, then you'll be able to safely glaze the whole piece (except the hole of course).

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On 11/18/2019 at 7:00 AM, DeDe18 said:

Hello everyone, I find your site tremendously insightful and factual, and this is my first post here. I'm a fairly proficient handbuilder and sculptor but have never worked in porcelain. I need to know whether these lentil-shaped hollow beads will fall flat in the highfire glaze firing, with or without glaze. They are slightly larger than a quarter in diameter, and thickness varies from 11 to 13 mm.  A classmate at community college handbuilding class gave me the porcelain clay because I just wanted to see whether I prefer it for my hollow beads. They all have holes, not showing in pic. My concern stems from the fact that I had read that walls can collapse, in porcelain, if not exceeding 30 degrees angle. I did do a LOT of searching and reading, but could not find an answer.

Photo shows the bisqued hollow porcelain beads in the foreground, and in background are beads from my same molds, in my usual stoneware clay. I do have Kanthal wire which I usually use in my own, small, low-fire kiln but I'm sure the kiln tech at the college (with a vast volume of stoneware and porcelain pieces to fire) will not be game to be bothered with my little experiment so my intent is to just have her fire them on the shelf, unglazed, to maturity ... and then I will decorate them by other means, if I choose, after seeing the result (hoping to get some translucency?)

So, in summing up ... do you think these little lentils will collapse and go flat when fired to the porcelain clay's maturity? I believe it is Cone 6.  Thank you for any input!

porcelain beads.jpg

Lovely beads.

Welcome.

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hi Marian, Babs and Lee ... thank you for the welcome, and for your input.  After weighing your input, and a discussion with the kiln tech at the community college, it seemed there was so little advantage to firing the 4 porcelain beads to maturity, that I decided to just fire them all in my small kiln at home, where I have my stands, and Kanthal wire, and will fire them with Cone 05 Amaco glazes.  Silly me was dreaming of getting translucency, which was not going to happen :-)   I'll stick with my existing Cone 05 white clays which has served me well so far for making beads.  Again, thank you!

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