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Ian Currie Test Tiles Forums?


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I have no idea what is going on with the green color. I am not sure cause I have never ran a grid on this glaze before. I am assuming it is the frit+feldspars and who knows what else. 


The 2% is the additions I added in via the spreadsheet. I added 2% to the base cups with Yellow Ochre, then 2% RIO. Everything I added was done via 2ml to the grid tiles and to the cups, using the math from the spreadsheet to make sure everything was even. 2ml is way too much for my tile without some type of pool and mountain to define the characteristics of the glaze better. I don't know if it is worth the effort or not but I am going to make another grid blueprint and dig a hole and also add a ridge. This way I can see pooling and breaking better. I still think we will always have to run vertical tiles of the grids we like though.  Unless....


I was thinking is making an L shaped tile, then making a pool(indent) in both the top and bottom of the L. This way I get a melt test/flow test, and a pooling test. Run this along side the grid for optimal results?


I attached an example of what I am thinking. Basically lay the top of the tile, the red dot down. Fill it with 1ml of glaze. Lay it back up, let a little drizzle out. Fill yellow spot with glaze. Push up the edges of the tile base with your fingers when making the tile, creating like a little pool so that the top red glaze wouldn't flow off the tile. Could work? Still a lot of work to create 35 tiles when the majority of them would be useless. But it solves the solution of the grid being flat only. Would need these tiles to be like 1 or 2 inches wide probably to get 1ml of glaze in each pool. 


I am still thinking with some real dedication you can make a better grid for testing. 


I will try both things. I will make a new grid and make 35 of those tiles manually, since I don't have an L shape extruder. 


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I would just do the grid on the tiles, no point in duplicating it. Make 7 big L's instead of 35 small. Hit with something round to make a dint and glaze+tip sounds good.




This is interesting I like that idea. Using the same principles could do 1ml in each hole. Just need to figure out a way to catch the overflow. I like that Joel. I really do. *puts on thinking cap*  B)

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This is what I am thinking about making. 




I am making a blueprint grid where I will have ridges(.25'' wide) instead of a depression for the horizontal row divisions. I have a handheld extruder. I will extrude .25'' strip that is long enough to span the 5 rows width. I will place a square or circle dent in those to match the squares below them. I will let that strip dry so I can pick it up without it distorting too much, then I will vinegar slip the depression that comes out on the actual grid tile and place in the strip. If I measure right it should just sit in there with the vinegar slip it should hold just fine. Let this dry and presto chango. I will have vertical and flat Currie test. Use my standard 2ml addition formula but put one ml in the top and one ml in the bottom. 


Could all fail horribly. I think the C based corners are going to run right off the vertical tiles and pool in the flat one, but really I could care less, nothing useful comes from those tiles most of the time for me as I don't do much flat work. Also going to make sure I add a pool inside of my flat tile square.


If it fails, oh well I wasted a few hours making the blueprint. If it works, its 10 minutes additional work to make a grid tile, with 100% more information.


Hopefully this works as it will drastically help me explore these grid tiles and progress my glaze work a lot faster. 

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Having been watching the momentum build in this thread over the last few days.  Great work Joseph.  Loving the vibe here. 


I have thought about and commented on many of the same issues you and Joei are raising now on currie tile design earlier in this thread.  Might be worth looking back at some of that discussion.   Also, I have lots of pictures of currie tiles in my gallery on CAD, including of the blank I use which may provide ideas.


Here are few thoughts on how to get more information out of each cell each glaze. 


1. Currie himself applies an extra pass of glaze in part of each cell in the form of a striding figure to show how well each glaze is melting down.  See his book for more explanation.


2. For "mountains" he has put three small parallel ridges of slightly different heights in the upper left (right?) corner of each cell for glaze to break across. 


3. I have added my own vertical score to the bottom of each cell, between the legs of the striding figure, to assess how well each glaze will heal over.  Again, see my gallery.


I find each of these modifications very informative for every glaze.


Your discussion here has generated some additional ideas about a currie tile redesign.  I am away from the computer for the next few hours, but will try to set them out shortly.


As one general thought, though, the goal in improving currie tile design in my mind would be to add the benefits of some three dimensionality to the currie tile WITHOUT sacrificing the great information its two-dimensionality already provides.

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Regarding currie tile design,... 


The ideal situation in my opinion would be to fire a SINGLE test piece which delivered all the information available on a FLAT currie tile, along with the additional information one gets from firing individual VERTICAL test tiles (and possibly even a flow test for each glaze). 


How to do this?  This idea may sound kind of crazy, but it has been floating around in my head for a while so I have to let it out. 


Imagine that each of the 35 cells on a currie tile was (instead of a slight depression) occupied by a small square column, wide at the bottom but tapering slightly to the top, kind of like a square rook on a chess board, say 5 or 10 centimeters high.  Each "rook" has a rather large, flat square top with a slight depression in the middle about as deep as a currie tile cell.  All 4 sides of the square "rook" have regular horizontal lines measured out at regular intervals (say 1 cm each).  And possibly each rook would have a depression on one of its 4 sides which an overly large ball of glaze might fit into. 


From the top, the test piece would look like (and function as) a standard flat currie grid, with the small difference that each cell would now be separated by empty air rather than clay walls.  But each cell would be close enough to his neighbors on all sides to be easily compared with them in the traditional currie tile way by holding the whole object up to the light at various angles.


The sides of each rook would provide the equivalent of a vertical tile test, and possibly a flow test for each glaze if desired.  Excess glaze would simply run down between the rooks.  If desired, deep lines could be scored between the 35 rooks so that they could be snapped apart later if desired.


Glaze application for each rook could be done in the traditional way with syringes, spoons, etc..  But ideally glaze application would be done by dipping each rook in glaze, simultaneously applying the traditional currie tile flat top layer, as well as the glaze application for the vertical tile test on each side of the rooks.  The holy grail would be to have 35 perfectly sized and well stirred cups ready underneath, so that the whole test piece could be dip glazed in one single movement.  As I have suggested elsewhere, I think some kind of "stirring table" for multiple lab vessels like they have at hospitals and medical labs may be the answer to everyone's stirring nightmares. 


Aside from designing the mold, I can see a few problems with this.  Most importantly, it would require enough glaze in each of the 35 cups to be able to dip the rooks. I don't have any issue with mixing up corner batches large enough to do this, but I think some do.  But since dipping is a pretty standard glaze application technique to actual pots, maybe it is closer to what people want in a vertical tile test at the end of the day anyway.  In addition, it would still require some hand work to, say, apply the striding figure, do scoring, etc. but given the time saved if this all works, that work would be next to nothing.


Any thoughts appreciated. 

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I was writing a reply to your first post when the second popped up!


Curt. I think the striding man is important. I am not sure why I have never used it. I did little ridges in my tile. You can't see them here, but they are there. They are only probably 1mm in height though. 


I have looked extensively at your grid stuff. 


I am not sure I understand your 2nd post about the rooks and stuff. I think your saying that you make a flat tile but with pegs basically? This would be great if one could figure out a way to mix and stir all 35 and dip at once, like you said industrial science lab stuff. As far as stirring I think a milk frother is going to be perfect for quick stirring for us potters.


One interesting thing about your post is it got me thinking about another way of doing what I want, but with a flat tile like you said. Although I am still not sure if it is better than taking the extra time for the vertical one. 


Basically we still make a 25mm tile square. But we divide it in half. Make one half of it sloped down, with a slight indent for glaze to be placed and sit. Sort of like the melt test on digital fire. Basically we give it enough angle so that it will run slightly if fluid. The trick would be figuring out the depression so that you could put the glaze in it and then when it melts it would still run. Then have a slight gully to catch the excess so it doesn't mess with the 2nd half of the tile. Which would be the flat test with two ridges in different heights, and a slight pool.


So basically for my continued addition method you would do something like, 1 ml on one half of the tile and one ml on the other half. One half is a angled melt test, which should give you some indication of what it would look like on a verticle fired piece. Then the second half is the flat test, which is basically what we are doing now, but with less glaze since the tile is cut in half, which should make it similar to what we are already doing with the 2ml for thickness.


A person would have to spend a lot of time making the mold for this particular grid, or make one really good stamp and stamp 35 tiles each time.  I think I might be getting too complex. It seems very possible to make a grid mold that would have these features, it would just take a lot of time to make the initial mold, but if done right could be worth the effort.


I am enjoying the conversation getting the juices going. I like doing the currie test. They make me understand a lot of what the ingredients are doing a lot better, but we need more detail of vertical melts.


Here is quick sketch of the idea I am not sure if this is the best explanation, but just a quick idea.




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I too have pondered the idea of 'plonking a test tile' or similar in every tile, it wasn't so much a flat top mountain but a steep volcano with flat edges. The logistics of making a 35 grid mould sounds like too much work to me. I would consider doing the same flat top shape but casting each one individually and just arranging into a grid after the fact. Now they sound like upside down pots. Maybe that is not a bad thing. Still too much work.


I am lazy and like things to be simple stupid. Having to make complicated moulds or needing to make slabs and waiting to join with slip is not for me. The quickest way is to extrude L's or cheeswire out a thin slabs from a fresh bag of clay then cut and fold. 

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I am not worrying about it for a while. I am going to vertical test the grids I liked from the last tiles and just work with them for a bit. If I just test too much too relentlessly I will burn out. Learned that lesson last time. I think the grid can be improved without a lot of effort with a simple mold change. I am letting it sit in my subconscious while I work on other things.

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Thanks Joseph!


I'm also repurposing my old Ian Currie style test grids now too. You inspired me to detail out my process in case it's helpful to anyone to see the nitty-gritty details and images.


I posted it today here in case you're interested: http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/16233-my-glaze-process-using-ian-currie-grids/

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Always neat to see someone else grids. We have a lot of test fanatics here. Always post any grids you make, we love to see them! 

I wish I would have been able to take a workshop from him. My favorite part of a workshop isn't learning the techniques, but obtaining the insight, views, and thought processes of the workshop host. That is usually more valuable than the actual workshop itself. I imagine his was great!


When you say re purposed grid, are you going to make a new grid blueprint? I have been thinking about it, but haven't made a new one yet. 

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By repurposing the grids, I mean that I am using the Ian Currie grid tiles I have already made, but I am not using his glaze test system that the grid was originally intended for. I have used that in the past but at this point I'm just using them as a test tile and have created that system I detailed to track it all. Works great for many purposes I guess. If I were to make new tiles, I'd make each gird box larger with a deeper recessed area for the glaze to pool in as well as a high textured area to test how the glaze "breaks" when thin or going over texture.

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Hi ZAN welcome to the Currie discussion.


As my Currie tiles stack up I agree that organisation is important. I have looked at some of the individual tiles dozens of times over a period of years and it is good to know what I am looking at for sure. I find something new that I didn't see before pretty much every time. I have a feeling that my glaze software (Insight) could be a lot more helpful in this organisation, including producing hard copy printouts of grid printouts but so far it can't even produce Currie grids for testing, so not sure when we will get there.


I noticed in your pictures that your small cups seemed to be full of dry powder. Did you decide not to use Currie's volumetric blending method, or is that something else?


Also, how do you apply the glaze to the tiles?

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Hi Curt,


I read Joseph's post about using the tiles in other ways besides the intended method that Ian developed them for. I have used the volumetric blending in the past, but now I'm just testing new glazes and using the tiles as a type of palette to test and record results in an organized way. I went a little overboard after taking Ian's workshop and made hundreds of tiles so I have a lot laying around and I use them for many kinds of tests now. The process I outlined is working well for me, and I mix the powdered test cups with water and brush them onto the tiles.


I don't use glaze software, I test versions starting with a base glaze and mixing a few versions from that to give me the alterations I'm looking for. Ian's way is better to get a real understanding of what the different elements do in the glaze. But now that I'm more familiar I find I can skip some steps and just play around, still getting good results.


Except for the blasted crater glaze I'm searching for. I can't get big crater holes...yet! I get interesting frothy surfaces, but I want crater holes! I fire in an electric kiln at cone 6, and I'm finally mostly happy now with my glaze palette of primarily matte, satin matte and textural glazes.

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For purposes of looking at the grid horizontally then looking at the vertical test. The results were pretty close.


From the Yellow Ochre Tile: 




5, 8, 9, 10, 14


From the Yellow Ochre and RIO Tile:




4, 9, 20


This is just for reference comparing. I don't think modifying the grid for vertical is needed now thinking further about it. We can basically deduct from the chemistry in the glaze if its going to run a lot or not. I pretty much predicted these on paper doing what they would do here. I do think I will make a new grid with a pool and ridges though as to see more variety.


The color addition method is fantastic though. I will be doing more test soon with that method. Although once you have made several test from the base like I did here, I think you pretty much can determine the tiles you like, then run line blends for different colors off a base. 

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Great tests! Love #20 what is the black clay you use and at what cone fired? I'm just starting to play around with some commercial black cone 6 clay, will show you results when I get them.


One thing that is fun and easy to do with a good base glaze you like is to start with a test cup of base glaze  (V1) paint it onto a test tile, then add in 2% of a mason stain for color into the same cup, paint it onto a test tile.


The add in 4% (V-3) etc..... quick and dirty but it's a fast way to take one glaze cup (of a base glaze you have already tested and like) and test it in a variety of color intensities. 


I have done this with Mason stains a lot when I'm trying to push a color. It doesn't work so well with oxides or ingredients that have several properties in addition to color.

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  • 1 month later...

I just wanted to report back on my stirring problems. I finally went out to the local mall and bought a 9.99 milk frothier. It stirs the little cups perfectly and is much faster and easier then stirring the cups by hand manually.


I plan on running a lot of currie test in the coming months as I will be done with summer school and on a much easier schedule. Plan on using the addition method that I described above. So far it hasn't seemed to let me down at all. All the test I have made from the addition method have looked exactly like the grid tiles. Which means that the increment %'s that get adjusted each time are working great.

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I just wanted to report back on my stirring problems. I finally went out to the local mall and bought a 9.99 milk frothier. It stirs the little cups perfectly and is much faster and easier then stirring the cups by hand manually.


Hi Joseph, is this like a little hand-help open propellor gizmo that you stick down into the cup? Kind of like a hand blender but without the cover over the blades? Presuming you can just rinse this after each use in a small container of clean water nearby?

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joseph, you always seem to find the neatest things online!  this looks like it would be perfect to remix glaze that is in the spray bottle.  i know it is a small enough diameter to fit the opening of the bottle but is it really strong enough to reconstitute a glaze that may have dried out?  naturally, i would add water first and let it sit awhile before trying the machine.

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joseph, you always seem to find the neatest things online!  this looks like it would be perfect to remix glaze that is in the spray bottle.  i know it is a small enough diameter to fit the opening of the bottle but is it really strong enough to reconstitute a glaze that may have dried out?  naturally, i would add water first and let it sit awhile before trying the machine.


I doubt it. At least the model I have. I don't think it would reconstitute well. It mixes up fluid soft glazes but if the glaze was chunky I really doubt it would do the job. There are other higher quality frothers that might have more rpm. the one I got was cheap and just right for what I wanted. I figured I would burn it up pretty quick so I went with cheap over quality. I burned up 3 immersion blenders in the last 2 years. So I am pretty rough on the things. 


Remember I am just using it to mix in liquid additions of water + oxide or chemicals into an already brand new batch of glaze. You could try it for $9.99 and see, but I don't think it would.  :(

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finally got round to using a couple of Currie grids in my last firing. I varied alumina and iron instead of adding kaolin and silica, so I hope no-one minds me posting in this thread. The tiles are on a red earthenware and a white stoneware.

For some reason I've stumbled on a number of spotty glazes, firing to cone 4. One of these is 'Harris/Giorello 7', which is my attempted reformulation of one of Clara Giorello's variations on Cathy Harris' iron red glaze.


Red earthenware:

IMG 0008

White stoneware:

IMG 0002

Detail on red earthenware:

IMG 0010

I'd previously tried to vary iron and alumina individually, but miscalculated the amount of iron oxide in the first case, and used a less pure iron oxide in the second, so wanted to do a proper test where I varied both. So I formulated the corner glazes so that the rows have constant Al2O3 UMF values, the columns have constant Fe2O3 UMF values, and everything else is the same. Well, that was the plan... except that I used the wrong kaolin, which resulted in silica decreasing from about 2.27 to 2.12 as you move up the rows (all values are UMF). Al2O3 goes from about 0.33 to 0.46 (EDIT: bottom to top), Fe2O3 from 0.07 to 0.22, and the fluxes and boron remain approximately constant. In terms of percentages, red iron oxide goes from about 4% to 12%.

Some observations.

  • Increasing alumina darkens the glaze. I've seen this in other tests as well. I'm interpreting this to mean that alumina decreases the solubility of iron in the glaze.
  • There's an arc of unhealed bubbles that curves up and to the left. Beyond the arc, around the top right corner, the glaze is smooth. I don't know if this is because the glaze was too viscous for the bubbles to expand, or if they didn't form at all.
  • The arc is closer to the bottom left corner on the white grid. I think this is because it was resting directly on the bottom shelf, while the red grid was supported on a plate setter above it, so presumably received more heat-work. This suggests that firing higher may result in the unhealed bubbles smoothing over. But I could be wrong, and I'd be interested in any other explanations anyone has.
  • The left-hand column looks underfired. It's also higher than the column next to it, so I'm guessing it has more bubbles trapped inside.
  • You can't really tell this from the photo, but the glazes that have spots all have a matte background, with the spots being relatively glossy in comparison.
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