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Making my own peeps


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Hi.  We've destroyed most of the peeps in the community studio.  I'd like to try throwing some.  We fire to ^6.  Can I use our ^6 clay, or should I get a bag of ^10?  A bag of clay is cheaper than purchasing a dozen cast peeps.

Thanks

Nancy J

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Clay that you use for pottery might not be the best thing for the job. Consider that one end of the plug will be inside the kiln, and the other end will be in the surrounding air that’s colder by several hundred degrees at least.  There are recipes out there for kiln repair refractories that might be a better idea. They usually involve fire clay and things like vermiculite.  Even carving some out of soft brick could be a reasonable solution, if you have any to hand.

There are some good suggestions in this old thread that’s been archived.

 

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1 hour ago, mnnaj said:

or should I get a bag of ^10?  A bag of clay is cheaper than purchasing a dozen cast peeps.

Thanks

My best success for making custom sight plugs for gas kilns where the plugs are not  available for purchase or are very custom  has been with the use of  high temp refractory castable cement. Mizzou plus is good for 3000f. Regular claybodies will eventually fail after repeated firings. I would buy the ready mades  first, cast replacements second. Various Dixie cups end up as a source for nice forms and the cement really does not shrink significantly, nor  does is melt and vitrify. 

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I used Peter King clay.  Not the easiest to throw, but they have held up well so far (maybe 60 cone 10 firings).  You could maybe just use Soldate 30 or add a bunch of grog to a basic cone 10 white or light colored clay.  I think if I was to do it again, I'd extrude the spy holes square and fit a square tapered soft brick plug.

Making a mold form for castable would be tricky.  I don't think it would be durable unless it was pretty thick.  I used castable cement for my exhaust damper box.  At least one piece cracked, but is still functionable.

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Kiln bricks to carve out plugs make really good plugs but it's dusty if you use power tools, I've found whittling them by hand isn't as dusty but still needs to be done outside (wearing a respirator).

Other option would be to use peep "flaps" instead, 2 of my kilns use these. On the Euclids kiln they are made from an open groggy clay, on the ConeArt they are stainless steel. Would need to add 2 self-tapping screws for each. One screw to attach and pivot the other screw to hold it in the open position. Advantage to using flaps instead of plugs is they don't get dropped or lost. Disadvantage is they do get hot so can't touch them with bare hands but easy to flip them over with a scrap of brick or a post (or wear gloves).

edit: let me know if you want pictures and I'll take some closeups. 

Edited by Min
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2 minutes ago, Min said:

Kiln bricks to carve out plugs make really good plugs but it's dusty if you use power tools, I've found whittling them by hand isn't as dusty but still needs to be done outside (wearing a respirator).

Other option would be to use peep "flaps" instead, 2 of my kilns use these. On the Euclids kiln they are made from an open groggy clay, on the ConeArt they are stainless steel. Would need to add 2 self-tapping screws for each. One screw to attach and pivot the other screw to hold it in the open position. Advantage to using flaps instead of plugs is they don't get dropped or lost. Disadvantage is they do get hot so can't touch them with bare hands but easy to flip them over with a scrap of brick or a post (or wear gloves).

edit: let me know if you want pictures and I'll take some closeups. 

Shop vac takes care of the dust.  Or a big ass fan outside.

I did build "flaps" initially when I built the kiln.  It was a tin box, maybe 6" x 6" filled with ceramic fiber,  The bottom one is still in service, but the top one burned out a while ago.  Hence the plug.

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Regular clay is not a good choice. It gets hot to the touch, and it much more likely to fail since it's not made to handle the difference in heat from one end to the other. Soft brick would be my choice, as it's easy to shape and the end you touch won't get very hot like other materials. If you really want to make it out of clay, then mix in a bunch of organic material that will burn out when fired- fine sawdust, flour, etc, to create an open body, and only fire it to bisque temps.

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The ones that say come with a skutt are slip cast and hollow.

I took a mold from that and cast my own.

As you know  the mold process shrinks the form so you need to dip the orginal peep in slip to build up layers to make it larger so the cast ones are the right size. You could also throw that original before taking a mold from it and do thge math on shrinkage.

Little more work but its done right.

Once  you have the mold any good cone 10 porcelain slip or cone 6 slip will do.

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4 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

I have the same kind, but I cannot for the life of me remember the brand. Definitely recommend this kind. 

Not sure, mine is a crucible kiln so the best I can do is give a link:https://seattlepotterysupply.com/products/solid-peep-hole-plug?_pos=1&_sid=0b74bbf67&_ss=r&variant=34244661674123

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Thank you everyone who has responded.  I know that the college I learned at had a mold that we would use to make peeps - in two sizes.   I was thinking of throwing them because the community ed program doesn't have room for making plaster molds or storing casting slip.

Thank you Min and Neil for the idea about the flaps.  I share space with 3 other instructors so putting  screws in the side of the kiln is something I will need to clear with the others.  Mark C.  It's good to know that I can use the ^6 I have - at least for the first trials.  

Nancy J

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14 hours ago, neilestrick said:

Peep flap on an old Evenheat:

 

Peep Flap.jpg

I had a top of kiln vent flap like that on a very very old kiln. I once put a piece of ceramic fibre blanket on top to try to get top of kiln hotter, and ,yes, the flap melted and ran into my kiln and top shelf platter...silly in many ways .

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1 hour ago, Babs said:

yes, the flap melted and ran into my kiln and top shelf platter...silly in many ways .

Some folks with flaps fill the port mostly with fiber, keeps their flaps looking new and if you don’t use the ports, they are just another leak in the kiln. If you have a downdraft, likely don’t use the ports anyway.

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On 1/9/2021 at 8:23 AM, CactusPots said:

Shop vac takes care of the dust.  Or a big ass fan outside.

I did build "flaps" initially when I built the kiln.  It was a tin box, maybe 6" x 6" filled with ceramic fiber,  The bottom one is still in service, but the top one burned out a while ago.  Hence the plug.

Once again, I make a comment thinking gas kiln and everyone else is talking electric kiln.  How anachronistic I am.

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4 hours ago, CactusPots said:

Once again, I make a comment thinking gas kiln and everyone else is talking electric kiln.  How anachronistic I am.

Gas kilns tend to be outfitted with sensible peep plugs that are made out of one form of insulating brick or other. Electrics mostly come with slipcast ones that are breakable and stupid. Or maybe not stupid from the point of view of whoever manufactures them. 

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