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Diving in and have questions


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Hi! 

I'm totally inexperienced in this new world of clay and I have questions. 

I am planning on making tiny porcelain ceramics for jewelry. I have acquired a brand new kiln, some samples of colored porcelain, and a 25lb block of Suzuki white porcelain. 

I'm reading that I can fire the Suzuki porcelain to cone 6, which is good because the glazes I'm looking at can also fire up to cone 6.  Has anyone done test pieces with this clay? 

My items will be very small as I plan on adding them to other pieces and adding other things to them after firing, if that makes sense. 

I have no idea what I'm doing. I need guidance so I don't ruin things when they arrive. 

How do I care for my kiln? Will kiln paper work? Kiln wash? Can I dip pieces and just lay them on a shelf that's been kiln washed or will it stick? 

How long and how hot for bisque, and for the next firing? These are going to be smaller than what most people do for test pieces I'd imagine. 

Does anyone know what happens if you put a piece of copper in a divot of clay and then fire? Would I risk a piece exploding or ruining my kiln if I tried to add any metals on top of recesses on the surface of my pieces? 

I'd be grateful for any advice you could give. I have lots of creative ideas and ambition but don't want to ruin my new expensive toys as a result of experiments. 

Blessings, 

Azloen

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Hi Azloen and welcome to the forum.

First off, just want to confirm this is the clay you are planning on using? Are you wanting it to to not absorb water or oils from the skin? Reason I'm asking is that is what is referred to as a wide range firing claybody. It's rated for cone 6 all the way up to cone 11. Problem is it can't be mature at cone 6 and not overfired at cone 11 which means there is a strong possibility it will be still somewhat absorbent at cone 6. If you are going to fire to cone 6 it's best to use a clay that matures at cone 6.

16 minutes ago, Azloen said:

How do I care for my kiln? Will kiln paper work? Kiln wash? Can I dip pieces and just lay them on a shelf that's been kiln washed or will it stick? 

- Did your kiln come with a manual? If not I'ld strongly suggest looking it up online and reading it through.

- Use kiln wash on only the top surface of the shelves, don't get it on the edges or underside. Use a good quality kiln wash, make it yourself if you are unsure of what's in the commercial stuff you can buy. There is a link about kiln wash recipes here if you need it.

- No, you can't fire glazed surfaces on kiln shelves. Glaze will melt and fuze the pieces to the shelf. For cone 6 it's common practice to not have any glaze on the underside of the clay anywhere it comes in contact with the shelf. Some glazes run more than others, test and see how much your glaze runs so you know how close to the bottom of the pieces you can go.

21 minutes ago, Azloen said:

How long and how hot for bisque, and for the next firing? These are going to be smaller than what most people do for test pieces I'd imagine. 

 

Do a search on the main page for bisque firing schedules for manual or electronic controller kilns, lots of posts on this. 

22 minutes ago, Azloen said:

Does anyone know what happens if you put a piece of copper in a divot of clay and then fire?

Copper wire fired to cone 6 in the video here

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Hi Min! Thank you so much for your reply. 

I'll do some digging. Honestly I just got excited because I saw this forum in a search I did for answers and haven't done anything but join and post so far. Ha! 

Yes, that is the clay I'm planning on using. Once it's glazed, wouldn't that ensure that the surface wasn't going to absorb anything anymore? 

I don't believe my kiln will get hot enough to go to cone 11. It's an Olympic Hotbox (HB86E). 

I chose porcelain because I believed it was the most durable of clays, even if fired to cone 6, because I want it to be able to hold up to what people do with their jewelry. I'll be making small pieces to affix to metals later, and pieces that I'll be adding metals to also (wire wrapping, etc). 

I have an online shopping cart with a bunch of glazes that fire up to cone 6. I'm not seeing many that continue to be pretty after that temperature. I do suppose this will take some trial and error and obviously I'm not expecting to be awesome and have awesome things from the start. I just am trying to choose product that will be great quality when finished. 

So grateful for your thoughts and tips! It's always fun beginning new things and I'm so happy you were willing to share some things with me and give me direction! 

Azloen

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@Azloen You can dip pieces and hang them from a rack if they have a hole in them or if there is a wire in the piece.  If you are looking for wire that can handle the temp of firing, it would be either kanthal wire or nichrome wire.  I have used both.  If you have pieces that do not have holes in them and you want to completely glaze them you can put them on little stilts.  Supply places will have those.  You can even find really small ones.  

Roberta

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A quick note about kiln paper: it’s mostly intended for glass slumping, and that happens at much lower temperatures than we use for ceramics. It will only last one firing, and at the time of writing goes for  $278 + tax, etc. for 100 20”x20” sheets from a glass supplier. Compare that with pennies for homemade kiln wash. Cleanup from the paper should also be done wearing a respirator, as it contains various silicates and alumina. 

 

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There is no benefit to working any hotter than cone 6 in an electric kiln. Get a porcelain that matures at cone 6, though, not one that can go to 10 or 11. That way it'll be fully vitrified and much less likely to absorb oils. Your kiln will go to cone 10 assuming it doesn't have the optional blank collar, which is good because you'll get lots of firings to cone 5/6 before you need to change the elements, about 130-150 if doing low fire bisque and cone 5/6 glaze. If you fire to cone 10, you'll only get less than half that many firings and wear out the bricks much faster. So get a different porcelain and you'll be good to go.

FYI, your kiln pulls 15 amps, but it needs to be on a 20 amp breaker to meet code, so not a typical household outlet.

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azloen,  hope you will enjoy doing just what you want with your kiln.   one thing not yet mentioned is keeping a log of your firings with all the details so you can duplicate the good results and avoid the bad ones.  yes, there will be bad results.      keep a design book as well to plan what you intend to make and whether the design is a good or bad.    working with clay is fun but it does entail a lot of learning.   

btw, there was a discussion of firing copper pennies.    the consensus was, learn from what we all did and do not do it yourself.   

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I strongly urge you to take a pottery class,  there should be some opening now.    Make sure the class you choose will teach hand building.    Taking a class will mesh all of the facts and figures you are learning together.   To become familiar with firing your kiln volunteer to help with a firing in your class.  Working around other potters also has it's benefits,  more advanced students can help you.   New students like you can share the struggles of being a new potter.      Denice

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