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QotW: Earthenware or mid range Stoneware, What is your preference and why?


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Hi folks, once again nothing in the pool for QotW questions. . . Hope everyone knows where it is?? At any rate, after the last barrage on electric vs gas firings, I thought why not on firing temps?

QotW: Earthenware or mid range Stoneware, What is your preference and why?

This has been an interesting question for me over the years. I grew up as most of you remember with my parents painting bisqueware and having it fired. They could do it in the shop where they got the bisqueware and had it fired, or they could as they often did, work on it at home, sanding and glazing. I was never really much involved with it, being more interested in other things at the time. Then after three years of college with a Math/Science emphasis I  ended up in a college ceramics class in the summer. This was ^10 gas fired stoneware, and wheel throwing, or handbuilding. I became too involved with the wheel to do much handbuilding. Glazing was simple dip and pour with brushed oxides, simple and direct I loved it! Another Ceramics class confirmed my love of ceramics. Then I went to teach at a large HS in Central PA. They were just ramping up with more art courses, and had added a new teacher the previous year, then me, for a department of 3. The teacher hired before me had started a ceramics class, and was doing cone 06 Earthenware clays form Amaco with Amaco glazes. I worked that year on the 2 speed Amaco wheel with students and over the next few years the program became mine, and I moved it to ^6 immediately as I really did not like the Amaco clay, and had checked out several of the clay bodies from SC, choosing one that I thought looked most like a ^10 body that was also good for handbuilding and throwing, SC 112. I also took several courses at PSU allowing me to explore more in the way of throwing(large) firing salt and regular reduction, and glaze formulation.  After we bought a house with a garage, I decided to set up a shop. Bought a motorized kick, and a kiln. . . . I had gotten over ^10 knowing it would never work on main street. Earthenware? I really never liked the feel of it for throwing or otherwise. I always thought of it as being "not as nice", even the ring was false to me, and I know I will get some sour retorts on that statement, but it is IMHO.

So once again,  

QotW: Earthenware or mid range Stoneware, What is your preference and why?

 

So once again 

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Wow @Pres, you posted this question 21 hours ago and no-one has yet replied......

For me, the answer has to be "both".

I like ^6, but my little kiln doesn't.  The one at the community centre likes ^6, but no-one else does, or needs ^6.  

So, for some purposes, ^04 is fine, the glazes are more plentiful (UK), they come in every colour including special effects.  They suit the users at the community centre, and make my life as the advisor and firing tech much easier.

 

But for mugs, outdoor pots, bonsai pots, casserole dishes, I still want ^6.  Or higher and wood fired.

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^6 for functional work. Low fire for experimenting with alternative firings. I am moving my soluble salts to ^6 in the near future with a glaze. Meanwhile, using a small amount of earthenware for a pit firing coming up in may with friends.

 

Marcia

 

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3 hours ago, Chilly said:

Wow @Pres, you posted this question 21 hours ago and no-one has yet replied......

 

Chilly, I had really thought until this morning that this strand was a DUD! I was seriously thinking of putting up a new question, but am relieved to know we may get some life out of this.

Very interested in @Marcia Selsor reply to this, as she is doing so much experimental low fire with awesome results. The possibility of doing what she does at ^6 would be neat to see. True leader in the art.

 

best,

Pres

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I'm all about durability and functionality with most of the pots I make, I like my clay vitrified to the point that it won't leak without glaze, for me it's midrange stoneware or porcelain.  Would be great if there was a commercial body that was in the cone 2-3 range that met those requirements. I'ld gladly pay a bit more to fire lower than ^6 and yet have a clay that would be less expensive than a lowfire fritware body. Would probably need to use more frits in glazes than I currently use at ^6 but I think the decreased wear on the kiln elements (and kiln itself) would more than offset that cost. 

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My initiation to ceramics I: the semester started with specific cone 04 Earthenware with a choice of white or red; fired to cone 3 in an oxidation gas kiln producing fully matured ware.  at mid-semester the clay body was changed to a specific cone 10 stoneware with a  choice of white, tan to dark to be fired a cone 10 in reduction kiln.  
Ceramics II was again cone 3 (earthenware) firing first half and cone 10 (stoneware) second half.
(several years later all classes was cone 10 stoneware reduction).  
Some where along between earthenware to cone 10 was a semester or two it was all cone 5 (midware) fired in reduction.  

Today the studio is all stoneware at cone 10-ll reduction. 

I now use cone 10 clay bodies (because that is the way the kiln is fired) -- any kind -- for structural purposes of an object and use a clay of any cone -- earthenware to wild clay bodies -- as exterior coatings supported by any available high fire rated clay body.  Some of my ware uses a cone 04 clay body as a glaze.  This works for me. 

After determining the properties of the "earthenware" clay bodies fired at cone 10, I am comfortable with the way I am using the low fire clay bodies fired in the kiln I use and the way my ware is fired.  I am making ceramic art even though the forms are often based on bowls and platters.  The clay bodies are mature, the exterior surfaces are glazed with safe glazes.  

Firing low fire to a higher fired temperature is not normal, but then "ik ben niet normaal!".  


The cone 3 firing of earthenware was an easy way to make matured ware with bright simple studio glazes.  If I were in the business of making drinking and eating ware with a bright strong color palette, cone 3 oxidation of earthenware clay bodies would be high on a choice list; but then I would not be making art, I would be making drinking and eating objects. I am making "interesting objects" with clay ceramics.  

Over the last five years and so, I have chosen to use any clay body easily available to me, and I make objects that I consider to be "interesting"; I use the term "container" for items that might be considered to be "mug" or some other use; the functionality decision is controlled by the user of the object not by the maker.   Each batch of clay is different, and this reduces the boring tendency of making the same form over and over with the same appearance.  The leftover low fire clay bodies from my early semesters was available, and I was given the latitude to experiment and to learn something.  Improvise, Adapt, Overcome is the driving force for what I make and how I do it.

3 hours ago, Min said:

Would be great if there was a commercial body that was in the cone 2-3 range that met those requirements.

Min, I suggest you take the available low fire commercial clay bodies and find the firing cone that will vitrify to the point that it won't leak without glaze.  use that clay body to make your ware, take low fire glazes and fire them to that temperature.  Start with firing low fire glazes at the mature temperature for the low fire clay.  

LT
 

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@Magnolia Mud Research, I just had a look at the 5 low-fire clays from Plainsman that I have access too. Don't know if you are familiar with the write-ups from Plainsman but they are very good. (Tony Hansen does the clay tech) Anyhow, was pleasantly surprised to find that 1 of the 5 might actually be fine. It fires to a dark brown at cone 2 with a posted absorption of 0.5 - 1.5%   The other 4 don't appear suitable as the absorption is still too high at ^2 (ranges from 2-10%) and firing some of them hotter leads to a brittle or bloated claybody or doesn't bring the absorption down low enough. Something to experiment with for sure (when I can carve the time out for it), although I would prefer to stick with white claybodies.

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No contest for me--mid range is best for what I do.  There is nothing about earthenware that attracts me, in terms of my work--there are of course plenty of earthenware pieces from other people's work that I admire and appreciate.  Also,  I do not have easy access to wood/gas so high fire isn't in the equation either.  Midfire is also great for a hobby biz like mine, becasue I am not in a setting to be making my own glazes or formulating clay bodies, and I am plenty satisfied with the quality commercial glazes that we can get here in the U.S. They may not be authentic (I.e. shinos, pseudo-crystalline etc.) but they can still look pretty sweet.

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