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 a well equipped lab and studio and free use of anything in the factory and warehouse (hundreds of difficult kinds of clays and materials).
Why does Tony Hansen take months to unload his kilns?
I love making pottery, but I love the technical side more. I searched for all the test specimens in this load of cone 10 reduction ware first, then pushed it back in and forgot about it. For three months! I really anticipate the test results (I am developing and adjusting many of bodies and glazes at any given time). The data and pictures for them go into my account at insight-live.com, it enables me to compare the chemistry and physical properties of recipes and materials side-by-side. That teaches me which roads to abandon and which ones to pursue. My last kiln went back in for six weeks, so things are getting worse!
1970s cone 10 reduction stoneware bowl by Tony Hansen
This bowl was made by Tony Hansen in the middle to late 1970s. The body was H41G (now H441G), it had large 20 mesh iron stone concretions that produced very large iron blotches in reduction firing. Luke Lindoe loved to use these clays to show off the power of the cone 10 reduction firing process that he was promoting in the 1960s and 70s.
Tony Hansen signature - pre 2000
This was used until about 2000. Any numbers relate to the type of clay being used (often a test). In this case, the body is a test mix of Plainsman H431. The year is 1981.
The recipe mixing area of Tony Hansen
Tony's lab work area of mineral and chemical powders for mixing test glazes and clay bodies. Stoneware and earthenware glazes are made from dozens (even hundreds) of commodity industrial mineral powders.
Magic of Fire book
A book published by Tony Hansen. It explained why were need to think about materials (and the bodies and glazes made from them) as more than just powders. They have physical, chemical and mineralogical presences that do not take a lot of effort to understand. This was the first widely read book to show how, armed with this information and a knowledge of how to do glaze chemistry, readers could solve all sorts of problems. It showcased the real value of the oxide viewpoint in ceramics and explained how to use Digitalfire Insight and Foresight software in each scenario. From 2000-2014, the book was used as courseware in universities around the world. In 2015 the book was temporarily removed from distribution at digitalfire.com awaiting a new edition. Readers were reminded that all of the books content was available at the Digitalfire Reference Library.
1981 large stoneware bowl made my Tony Hansen
The clay is Plainsman H431. Fired at cone 10R. Tony learned how to make these bowls from John Porter in the early 1970s. They were glazed on the inside with the rough, bare clay surface on the outside. Decoration was done by a wax resist technique. The glaze is a silky dolomite matte with rutile and a little cobalt added for the powder blue color.
Tony Hansen signature - post 2000
Any numbers relate to the type of clay being used (often a test). In this case, the body is Plainsman P300. The fluted foot ring (for better draining in the dishwasher) is also a tell-tale sign the mug might be made by Tony.
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.
Ravenscrag Celadon and silky matte glazed mug by Tony Hansen
The outside glaze on this cone 10R mug (made of Plainsman H550) is simply an Alberta Slip:Ravenscrag Slip 50:50 mix with 5% added Ferro Frit 3134 (the Alberta Slip is calcined). This produces a stunning celadon with great working and application properties. Inside glaze: Ravenscrag Slip 90%, talc 10% (a matte having an extra ordinary silky texture). Learn more at ravenscrag.com.
Plainsman Polar Ice, P300, M370 and M340 by Tony Hansen
Much effort is expended at Plainsman Clays to develop good transparent base glazes. Far left is a white cone 6 porcelain made from New Zealand kaolin, a super-white-burning bentonite, feldspar and silica. P300 is a kaolin-only cone 6 whiteware. M370 is a kaolin-ball clay whiteware. The P300 and M370 recipes contain feldspar, silica and bentonite also. M340 is a buff stoneware, it is made from locally mined stoneware clays with no additions of feldspar or silica or any refined clays.
M390 mugs with Alberta Slip based glazes by Tony Hansen
These cone 6 mugs use an 80:20 Alberta Slip:Frit blend inside and out (the outside one has added rutile). Made around 2014. The incised wheat decoration as a dead giveaway that the mug is made by Tony. He has made this type of mug for decades and there is a good reason: continuity of testing. By making the same kind of ware each time he tests a clay, going through the same procedures he has done a thousand times, he can more easily spot differences in the way they perform.
1980s large reduction fired lampbase by Tony Hansen
This was typical of many made during the 1980s and sold in a gallery in Brandon, Manitoba. Tony was inspired by the work of John Porter and emulated many of his techniques. This is a dark burning iron stoneware clay, H440, fired at cone 10 reduction.
Tony Hansen: Lucky to have Luke Lindoe as my private tutor
1971, the year I met him. He was the founder of Plainsman Clays. My dad had just built the factory for him and I began working there in 1972. He was a well known potter and sculptor at the time. He got me started along the fascinating road of understanding the physics of clays. He was a true "plains man", interested in the geology (notice the skulls, these inspired the Plainsman logo). I loved testing all the lumps of clay he brought back from his expeditions. John Porter, his partner and an art school trained British potter, was his partner at the time. I spent alot of time learning from John and he got me started on the chemistry that led to Insight software.
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