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Handles


More coming soon.

Tony Hansen applying a handle to a porcelain mug

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They have been made ahead of time and put on a board to stiffen. How I just need to glue them on with slip. Notice I do not need to score the surfaces, I just use pressure. This works because the handles are applied to the mugs at the same stiffness and I am careful to dry the pieces evenly.

Place mugs with handles at the center and cover them during drying

Place mugs with handles at the center and cover them during drying

Handles expose all sides to the air and dry (and therefore shrink) much more quickly than the walls. Anything you can do to slow them down will produce a more even drying process.

A porcelain mug warps under the weight of its own handle

A porcelain mug warps under the weight of its own handle

An example of a cone 10 porcelain that is over mature. It contains too much feldspar and is vitrifying so much that it is beginning to melt. The weight of the handle is pulling the lip into a oval shape, even though the hourglass shape of the piece should offer stability.

Why were these handles pulled an hour after the mugs were thrown?

Why were these handles pulled an hour after the mugs were thrown?

Because they dry and stiffen much faster. When the handles are glued on with slip about an hour later they are about the same stiffness as the mugs. The handled mugs, which are sitting on plaster batts, will then be covered with cloth and plastic over night. The next morning, the bases will have stiffened and all sections of the mugs will be about the same stiffness, ready for trimming. After that they will be decorated, then placed on smooth wooden batts and wrapped with a cloth for drying.

Can you dry a mug with handle in two hours? Yes.

Can you dry a mug with handle in two hours? Yes.

The lid of my firing kiln seems to be just the right environment for even drying, even of freshly thrown pieces. By the time this mug really got under way here the kiln was at 1000F and the lid was getting pretty hot. The bottom was the warmest and the top coolest, the exact opposite of how drying normally becomes uneven (the top drying first). This principle could be employed to make a heated drying chamber. The interior space could be kept at high humidity and a draft of air through it could remove humid air and the needed rate.

Sixteen kinds of clay. No mugs have cracked in drying. Why?

Sixteen kinds of clay. No mugs have cracked in drying. Why?

The key is avoidance of methods that result in one part of the piece being stiffer at any stage of drying (not vinegar in the water, compressing the bottoms, etc.). Throw mugs with walls of even thickness. Put them on a plaster bat (it dewaters the base). Make the handles a while after you have made the mugs (they stiffen quicker). Apply them as soon as the rims are stiff enough to maintain shape (in my climate, two hours). Use a join method that enables application of lots of pressure (better than scoring). Use only enough slip (of thick cream consistency) to make the join (no excessive squirting out at the perimeter). Pack all the mugs closely on bats, rims up, cover with flowing cloth (e.g. arnel). Put them inside big bags or wrap plastic around and tuck it under. Trim the bases the next day (to the same thickness as the walls). Place rims down (with handles at the center) on smooth batts (not plaster) and cover them with large fabrics that can wrap under leaving no holes exposed to the outside air (in our dry climate two days dries them).


By Tony Hansen




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