•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

Sign-up at https://insight-live.com today.

Digitalfire Insight

A desktop application for Windows, Linux, Macintosh that you download and install. Insight is a classic glaze chemistry calculator.

-It interactively converts recipes to formulas and back. The main Insight window shows side-by-side recipes and their formulas, you can make chemistry changes to one while comparing it with the other.
-Insight is also a library and a teacher
-It puts at your fingertips a huge amount of information to help you learn the principles of glaze chemistry and it teaches you how to adjust, fix and formulate glazes.
-It is a database
-You can store all your recipes, picture, material information where you can easily find it.
It is a problem solver
-Using our videos, instructional and reference materials and our personal help you can solve problems like crazing, leaching, crawling, pinholing, blistering, etc.

The Digitalfire Reference Database by Tony Hansen

The Digitalfire Reference Database by Tony Hansen

It is a public website at http://digitalfire.com/4sight. It is a materials-centric traditional ceramics knowledge-base for formulating, adjusting and fixes glazes and clay bodies. He has been maintaining it since the early 1990s (it is generated by a content management system he develops). It has thousands of pages and tens of thousands of interlinks, and hundreds of its pages rank top-ten on search engines (people often arrive and use it unknowingly). Digitalfire desktop Insight software and Insight-live.com give people the calculation and data storage tools they need to make the best use of this library.

The main recipe window in Digitalfire Insight software

The main recipe window in Digitalfire Insight software

Insight installs on your Linux, Windows or Mac computer. It provides a very interactive way to comparing two recipes and their calculated formulas or analyses. As you make changes in the recipe you can see how it impacts the recipes. It is ideal for demonstrating concepts like unity, analysis, formula, mole%, LOI, formula-to-batch conversion.

Desktop INSIGHT showing formula and analysis side-by-side

Desktop INSIGHT showing formula and analysis side-by-side

Desktop Insight was the first to enable users to compare two recipes and their formulas side-by-side and interactively update when recipe changes were made. It also enabled users to show formulas and analyses side-by-side.

Digitalfire Insight materials dialog window

Digitalfire Insight materials dialog window

Desktop Insight remembers materials (in its database) as formulas and their formula weights. From this it can calculate the LOI. Materials can have alternate names so they are more likely to be found in calculating recipes. This dialog provides tools for adding, editing, deleting, importing and exporting materials.

Digitalfire Insight 4.1 running on DOS cerca 1983

Digitalfire Insight 4.1 running on DOS cerca 1983

This was on the IBM-PC, it was introduced in 1982. Until then Insight was running on Tandy Model 1 and 3 computers. The program was shipped on floppy disks. I was lightning fast, recalculating the chemistry as fast as you could push the calculate key. It could handle as many recipes as you had disk space for and knew about 100 materials and their chemistry. However only one recipe could be displayed at a time. Many of our customers stuck with the old DOS version of Insight well into the 2000s, even though the Windows version had long been available.

The Digitalfire glaze calculation worksheet for Excel

The Digitalfire glaze calculation worksheet for Excel

From the 1980s to 2000s we made this spreadsheet available. It stored materials and did the calculations in the same way that Insight did. We used it to verify that calculations were being done correctly and many customers downloaded it to learn more about the theory.

Digitalfire Insight running on a Macintosh middle 90s

Digitalfire Insight running on a Macintosh middle 90s

The Macintosh version used the same file formats as the Windows version right from the start. Macintosh customers however, were more likely to think that the program should think for them and more likely not to know which way to put the floppy disk in!

Digitalfire Insight 5.1 running on Windows 95

Digitalfire Insight 5.1 running on Windows 95

It is not really that dissimilar to Insight as it is today. It packed alot of power but people of the time were not inclined to believe that it was possible to do the chemistry that easily, or even that the chemistry was worthwhile learning.

Digitalfire Insight 5.0 running on Windows 95

Digitalfire Insight 5.0 running on Windows 95

This was the Insight jump from the old DOS version to a modern graphical user interface. Although Insight was available in Window 3.1, Windows 95 was the first version that was good enough that people left DOS behind.

Here is what digitalfire.com looked like in 1997!

Here is what digitalfire.com looked like in 1997!

We already had a large library of educational material (the predecessor of the Digitalfire Reference Library). The Foresight product was the fore-runner to insight-live.com today. And it was free like today. And we were warning people about the importance of safe glazes and understanding the "why" questions about the ceramic process.

Here is what digitalfire.com looked like in 1997!

Digitalfire Logo

Here is what digitalfire.com looked like in 1997!

Digitalfire Insight logo

Another reason that Insight-live.com exists

Another reason that Insight-live.com exists

First, I need to record this as a recipe in my account at insight-live.com so it can be printed at any total, documented with pictures of it on different clays, firing schedules and how they affect it, general notes. And be accessible from anywhere with any device. Then I need to start working on improving it. With all that feldspar it is sure to craze, I need to reduce it and substitute the some of K2O it contributes for MgO (from talc). With all that clay (29 total) it is sure to crack while drying, I need to split it into part calcined kaolin and part kaolin (the ball clay is not needed). And those raw colorants: Better to use a black stain. At a minimum it is better to use cobalt oxide than carbonate. The burnt umber could likely be increased to eliminate the need for both the manganese and iron (since it supplies both and has zero LOI).

Out Bound Links

  • (Videos) Lesson 1B - Turning a Feldspar Into a Glaze

    Shows you how to consult a target formula and compare it with the chemistry of a feldspar to determine why a feldspar does not make a good glaze by itself and what materials need to be combined with a...

  • (Videos) Lesson 1A - Comparing a Theoretical and a Real-World Feldspar

    This video is packed with information. Transcript: Video 1C - Comparing a Theoretical and a Real-World Feldspar 1 Entering recipes, materials and the materials database, theoretical materials,...

  • (Videos) Lesson 1C - Substituting Wollastonite for Whiting in Glazes

    This video discusses substituting for and comparing calcium carbonate (whiting) with other sources of CaO (dolomite, wollastonite, frit): It teaches you how to go about using glaze chemistry to unders...

  • (Videos) Lesson 4 - Add a Native Material to Desktop INSIGHT MDT, Build a Glaze

    A case study of adding the chemistry of a native volcanic ash (having an LOI) to the INSIGHT materials database (MDT). To maximize the percentage of the ash in a glaze, its analysis is entered into In...

  • (Videos) Lesson 3 - Dealing With Crazing

    This video explains what crazing is, how it is related to glaze chemistry, how INSIGHT calculates thermal expansion and how to substitute some of the amounts of high expansion oxides that often cause ...

  • (Videos) Lesson 2 - Creating a Matte Glaze

    Takes you on a detailed tour of how to start with a glossy glaze, compare its chemistry with a target formula in the light of what kind of chemistry matte glazes have, then alter the chemistry while a...

  • (Videos) Lesson 5A - Glaze Formula to Batch Calculations

    Shows you how to use a non-unity calculation and the supply button to convert a formula into a batch recipe. You will find out how to match a target formula exactly using theoretical materials and how...

  • (Videos) Lesson 5B - Difficult Formula to Batch Calcuations in Insight

    Mole%, formula to batch calculations, finding frits by chemistry, using material XML, Na2O sourcing, handling oxide oversupply, added status in recipe lines, overriding in the Supply dialog, rationali...

  • (Videos) Reducing the Firing Temperature of a Glaze From Cone 10 to 6

    A key lesson because it explains the difference between cone 10 and 6 glazes, demonstrates how to evaluate frits to choose the best one to source boron to a glaze, how to determine how much frit to ad...

  • (Videos) Substituting Nepheline Syenite for Soda Feldspar

    Issues surrounding substitution with complex materials that supply many oxides, KNaO vs. K2O/Na2O evaluation, substitution rules vs. in-recipe substitution calculation, non-chemistry reasons for glaze...

  • (Videos) Digitalfire Desktop INSIGHT Overview Part 2

    Using target formulas, the calculated items list (showing formula weight, expansion, ratios, LOI, totals), setting calculation type, choose a materials database, choosing an expansion set, recipe note...

  • (Videos) Digitalfire Desktop INSIGHT Overview Part 1

    Start here. Learn to download and launch it, the anatomy of the recipe window, why side by side recipes are important, how to use the Recipe database window to find and open recipes and targets, how s...

  • (Videos) Subsituting Gerstley Borate in Floating Blue

    Details how to substitute Gerstley Borate for another boron source in the popular Floating Blue glaze recipe. The lesson demonstrates that the most practical way to deal with the GB issue is on a glaz...

  • (URLs) Digitalfire website


  • (URLs) INSIGHT Glaze Chemstry Software


  • (Videos) Fixing a Settling Glaze Slurry

    Change the recipe of a glaze to increase its clay content (and thereby improve its suspending properties) while maintaining the same chemistry (and therefore fired results). Transcript 1 Welco...

  • (Videos) How to Add Materials to the Desktop Insight MDT

    It shows in detail how to add materials to INSIGHT using the INSIGHT materials dialog, using CSV materials files and Microsoft Excel and building a custom materials file at Digitalfire.com.

  • (Videos) Desktop Insight MDT: Adding a Material

    This video was made for a specific customer, but is of general interest to anyone having problems with adding materials to the Insight MDT or encountering what they perceive as problems.

  • (Videos) Maintaining a Desktop Insight MDT as a CSV File in Excel

    Edit and maintain materials data externally from INSIGHT using Microsoft Excel or equivalent

In Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Digitalfire Insight-Live

    Insight-Live is an OnLine ceramic recipe, material and test results management system used by potters and ceramic engineers and technicians. It is a product of Digitalfire Corporation and has been in operation since 2012. The site builds on the traditional desktop Insight (for Windows, Linux, Macint...

  • (Glossary) MDT

    MDT is an acronym for Materials Definition Table. It is the materials database of Digitalfire Insight glaze chemistry software. It is called a table because Insight reads it into memory from an XML file at program startup and forms and internal data structure of material rows and oxide columns. It r...

  • (Glossary) Digitalfire Foresight

    Database software for DOS made by Digitalfire from 1985 until 2005. It was used by ceramic technicians to catalog recipes, materials, test results and pictures in various ceramic industries around the world. It also worked on Windows until Vista (running in DOS mode). Foresight was written first in ...

  • (Glossary) Tony Hansen

    Tony Hansen is a potter, researcher, author, software engineer and developer of ceramic body and glaze recipes. He has used Digitalfire Corporation as a medium to distribute his software and knowledge products. He has had a long and close association with Plainsman Clays, they have provided him with...

By Tony Hansen

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