•The secret to cool bodies and glazes is a lot of testing.
•The secret to know what to test is material and chemistry knowledge.
•The secret to learning from testing is documentation.
•The place to test, do the chemistry and document is an account at https://insight-live.com
•The place to get the knowledge is https://digitalfire.com
Fighting the Glaze Dragon
Section: Glazes, Subsection: Introduction
At Digitalfire we promote the idea of understanding and formulating your own glazes so you have control rather than relying on suppliers or the trade in glaze recipes.
With a S-W-O-R-D
Software and the Internet
Internet resources for ceramics are growing every day. You can participate in discussions with thousands of people many of whom have years of experience. Check our links page for a springboard into the ceramic internet, use the search field on our home page to search the resources of this site.
- INSIGHT for Windows, Linux or Macintosh is an glaze calculator and empowers you to take control of your glazes with confidence and power you never dreamed possible. It is totally focused on doing classic ceramic glaze calculations at lightning speed and you can do two at once to compare them side-by-side. It is ideal for education (i.e. demonstrating the concepts of unity, analysis, formula, and LOI are easy).
- Insight-live.com is a online SQL database system that maintains unlimited materials, oxides, recipes, test procedures, test results, physical property, reference, picture and people data in your private account.
- Our Digitalfire Reference Database will prepare you for the world of glaze calculations and introduce you to simple yet effective physical testing you can do now. It is closely integrated with our software and helps readers intelligently decide when ceramic calculations are appropriate and when they should give way to physical testing.
Ancient potters prayed to the kiln god to watch over their firings, today they would likely take advantage of available technology.
- The 'need-know-only' culture in industry needs a funeral. You need in-house expertise, don't rely on suppliers or consultants only.
- That storage room full of mysterious materials bought just to test failed recipes is a monument to a passive mindset that needs to die among potters.
- Understand glazes and materials, don't just use them. What is in each material and why it is there? The implications of removing or altering each ingredient? Changing the firing? Using with oxides and opacifiers?
- Stop spinning your wheels. Stop having failures and learning nothing from them.
- Develop opinions.
Abandon Obsolete Thinking
In past we had glaze books filled with cantankerous recipes. Now it is better to have only a few base glazes and adjust these to produce all the needed effects. You should be able to draw a 'family tree' of all your recipes showing how they interrelate and the rationalization for specific alterations.
- It is impossible to control 50 recipes. It is much better to start with one base glossy and one base matte, preferably closely related. This approach allows you to concentrate your efforts on understanding and perfecting the properties of one base. Improvements to the base will benefit every glaze derived from it. You'll be able to throw out all those bags of materials you bought just to test recipes that never worked
- A recipe and the documentation that rationalizes it are inseparable entities where beginners are the recipients. Unfortunately the very ones who trade most are those who have not reached the 'want-to-know-why' stage. There are 'ethics' giver and receiver should not ignore. Documented recipes prove the author is conscientious and willing to field questions to help users adapt. Recipients willing to 'understand' and adjust demonstrate a grasp of the true nature of ceramic processes. Poor glazes can injure people physically.
- Reliance on 'Textbook recipes' is a constant impediment to your progress. They will control you instead of you them, they'll throw good results almost totally to chance, they are an impediment to your progress. They will stand as a barrier between you and getting an understanding, being in touch. Like raising and training a puppy from birth, it will just be easier to create your own recipes.
- Did you do a lot of testing in the past 15 years? Where are the results? It is a shame not to learn from your own past. An account at insight-live.com completely replaces your existing record keeping system. With it you can store a life time of ceramic related data in an organized, searchable, reportable format. Every piece of paper on your desk, in your filing cabinets could be in insight-live where you can find it.
- Instead of searching filing cabinets and boxes, you should be searching your database.
- Your plant should have documentation on each material used, there should be notes that clearly rationalize advantages and disadvantages compared to alternative products and factors about the material that require extra diligence in production and testing to assure quality.
Determination for Technical Excellence
- In the past our consciences allowed us to put 90% of our effort on appearance and 10% on technical issues. Accept your responsibility to produce ware that is beautiful but also hard, strong, dense, acid resistant, thermal shock resistant, chip resistant, and pinhole and craze free.
- Don't be intimidated by the simple techniques and tools that are within your reach now.
You might consider The Potters Prayer (see links) if our solutions do not work!
Out Bound Links
In Bound Links
Glaze and Clay Body Recipes
Recipes here are for demo purposes. Read th...
By Tony Hansen
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