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Tony Hansen's Thousand-Post TimeLine

I am the creator of Digitalfire Insight, the Digitalfire Reference Database and Insight-live.com. ... more

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Particle size drastically affects drying performance

Particle size drastically affects drying performance

These DFAC testers compare the drying performance of Plainsman A2 ball clay at 10 mesh (left) and ball milled (right). This test dries a flat disk that has the center section covered to delay its progress in comparison to the outer section (thus setting up stresses). Finer particle sizes greatly ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Lab testing a clay for its physical properties

Lab testing a clay for its physical properties

SHAB test bars, an LDW tester for water content and a DFAC test disk about to be put into a drier. The SHAB (shrinkage-absorption) bars shrink during drying and firing, the length is measured at each stage. The LDW sample is weighed wet, dry and fired. The can prevents the inner portion of the DFAC ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Do you know the purpose of these common Ferro frits?

Do you know the purpose of these common Ferro frits?

I used a binder to form 10 gram GBMF test balls and fired them at cone 08 (1700F). Frits melt really well, they do not gas and they have chemistries we cannot get from raw materials (similar ones to these are sold by other manufacturers). These contain boron (B2O3), it is magic, a low expansion ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

At 1550F Gerstley Borate suddenly shrinks! The melt fluidity ball tells us.

At 1550F Gerstley Borate suddenly shrinks! The melt fluidity ball tells us.

These GBMF test balls were fired at 1550F and were the same size to start. The Gerstley Borate has suddenly shrunk dramatically in the last 40 degrees (and will melt down flat within the next 50). The talc is still refractory, the Ferro Frit 3124 slowly softens across a wide temperature range. The frit and Gerstley Borate are always fluxes, the talc is a flux under certain circumstances.

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Why is that transparent glaze firing cloudy? The balls test us.

Why is that transparent glaze firing cloudy? The balls test us.

G1916Q and J low fire ultra-clear glazes (contain Ferro Frit 3195, 3110 and EPK) fired across the range of 1650 to 2000F (these were 10 gram GBMF test balls that melted and flattened as they fired). Notice how they soften over a wide range, starting below cone 010 (1700F)! At the early stages carbon ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Tune your matte glaze to the degree of matteness you want

Tune your matte glaze to the degree of matteness you want

G2934 is a popular matte for cone 6 (far left). It is not matte because it is not melting enough or is covered with micro-crystals, it is an MgO matte (a mechanism produces a more pleasant surface that cutlery marks and stains less). But what if it is too matte for you? This recipe requires accurate ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

90:10 Albany:Frit and Alberta:Frit comparison

90:10 Albany:Frit and Alberta:Frit comparison

These are three runs of Alberta Slip being compared with the original Albany Slip. These are ten-gram GBMF test balls fired on porcelain tiles at cone 6. This test shows how the material flows, how much gases of decomposition it generates and how well it allows them to escape. As you can see, they are very similar in melting behavior.

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Five common frits fired at cone 03 (1950F)

Five common frits fired at cone 03 (1950F)

Five common North American Ferro Frits fired at 1850F on alumina tiles (each started as a 10 gram GBMF test ball and flattened during the firing). At this temperature, the differences in the degree of melting are more evident that at 1950F. The degree of melting corresponds mainly to the percentage ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Compare fired glaze melt fluidity balls with their chemistry and lights come on!

Compare fired glaze melt fluidity balls with their chemistry and lights come on!

10 grams GBMF test balls of these three glazes were fired to cone 6 on porcelain tiles. Notice the difference in the degree of melt? Why? You could just say glaze 2 has more frit and feldspar. But we can dig deeper. Compare the yellow and blue numbers: Glaze 2 and 3 have much more B2O3 (boron, the ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

What material makes the tiny bubbles? The big bubbles?

What material makes the tiny bubbles? The big bubbles?

These are two 10 gram GBMF test balls of Worthington Clear glaze fired at cone 03 on terra cotta tiles (55 Gerstley Borate, 30 kaolin, 20 silica). On the left it contains raw kaolin, on the right calcined kaolin. The clouds of finer bubbles (on the left) are gone from the glaze on the right. That ... more

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

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What people have said about digitalfire

• Tony, the Boraq II substition for gerstley borate in the formula I sent you a while ago was succesful. Congratulations for figuring out boraq! I've tested Murray's, Gillespie, Laguna, IMCO, and also raw materials such as Cadycal, Ulexite, Colemanite, and the substitutes you recommended in your articles made of several components blended with Cadycal (I referred to these in my previous letter) all with varying degrees of success but only the boraq II produced results that were indistinguishable from GB. This glaze is very sensitive so I consider the test a success. It had to mess with the plasticity with additions of hectorite and ball clay.

• You have been more than helpful and I will recommend your site to all of my pottery friends. Once again a big thank you.

• Tony's site is really full of exceptional technical information.

• Thanks for your website! I found it greatly informative and useful in my research work on high temperature ceramic materials.

• I have been in the pottery business for 52 years, Pemco use to be 10 miles from us. Your advise on solving our glaze problem worked perfectly and you explained it so well. I have had this problem for 7 years, re-firing lots of ware. Pemco guys and Pfaltzgraff Pottery glaze dept. told me different recipes but it never solved the problem. None of them talked about firing cycles. Tony, how did you get so smart? God has Blessed you.

• I would also like to say thank you for providing the information about glaze's that you have on your websight. I have been formulating glaze for 20+ years, read practicaly every book on glaze & glass and your web page's had better information than any book.

• Just found you and am very excited. Will order a copy of your Magic of Fire II as soonas I have some $. I won INSIGHT on newsletter web page.


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What people have said about Insight-Live

• Thanks for doing the timeline. I’ve told you before but it never hurts to say it again, this is great stuff and I get so much info from your posts. Extremely valuable!

• I just want to say THANK YOU for this incredible database of information. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

• I'd just like to say that I love Digital Fire and I'm on here pretty much everyday. It has been soo helpful. Even though I am still leaning and exploring what I can do with the program it has been a huge help, and I believe it will be for years to come. I'm such a fan of your glaze software and tell all them members here .. what a tremendous asset it is to my practice.

• First I want to thank you for the service you're providing the ceramics community at large.

• Your site is amazing and your videos too. Such an inspiration.

• I love your software and I really appreciate you being there when I need help. Keep on being amazing. I am still enjoying insight every day. You were right - having it in the cloud is a huge advantage.

• Awesome site...you do great work!


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