A Low Cost Tester of Glaze Melt Fluidity
A One-speed Lab or Studio Slurry Mixer
A Textbook Cone 6 Matte Glaze With Problems
Adjusting Glaze Expansion by Calculation to Solve Shivering
Alberta Slip, 20 Years of Substitution for Albany Slip
An Overview of Ceramic Stains
Are You in Control of Your Production Process?
Are Your Glazes Food Safe or are They Leachable?
Attack on Glass: Corrosion Attack Mechanisms
Ball Milling Glazes, Bodies, Engobes
Binders for Ceramic Bodies
Bringing Out the Big Guns in Craze Control: MgO (G1215U)
Ceramic Glazes Today
Ceramic Material Nomenclature
Ceramic Tile Clay Body Formulation
Changing Our View of Glazes
Chemistry vs. Matrix Blending to Create Glazes from Native Materials
Concentrate on One Good Glaze
Cone 6 Floating Blue Glaze Recipe
Copper Red Glazes
Crazing and Bacteria: Is There a Hazard?
Crazing in Stoneware Glazes: Treating the Causes, Not the Symptoms
Creating a Non-Glaze Ceramic Slip or Engobe
Creating Your Own Budget Glaze
Crystal Glazes: Understanding the Process and Materials
Deflocculants: A Detailed Overview
Demonstrating Glaze Fit Issues to Students
Diagnosing a Casting Problem at a Sanitaryware Plant
Drying Ceramics Without Cracks
Duplicating Albany Slip
Duplicating AP Green Fireclay
Electric Hobby Kilns: What You Need to Know
Fighting the Glaze Dragon
Firing Clay Test Bars
Firing: What Happens to Ceramic Ware in a Firing Kiln
First You See It Then You Don't: Raku Glaze Stability
Fixing a glaze that does not stay in suspension
Formulating a Clear Glaze Compatible with Chrome-Tin Stains
Formulating a Porcelain
Formulating Ash and Native-Material Glazes
Formulating Your Own Clay Body
G1214M Cone 5-7 20x5 Glossy Base Glaze
G1214W Cone 6 Transparent Base Glaze
G1214Z Cone 6 Matte Base Glaze
G1916M Cone 06-04 Base Glaze
G1947U/G2571A Cone 10/10R Base Matte/Glossy Glazes
Getting the Glaze Color You Want: Working With Stains
Glaze and Body Pigments and Stains in the Ceramic Tile Industry
Glaze Chemistry Basics - Formula, Analysis, Mole%, Unity, LOI
Glaze chemistry using a frit of approximate analysis
Glaze Recipes: Formulate Your Own Instead
Glaze Types, Formulation and Application in the Tile Industry
Having Your Glaze Tested for Toxic Metal Release
High Gloss Glazes
How a Material Chemical Analysis is Done
How desktop INSIGHT Deals With Unity, LOI and Formula Weight
How to Find and Test Your Own Native Clays
How to Liner-Glaze a Mug

Inkjet Decoration of Ceramic Tiles
Interpreting Orton Cones
Is Your Fired Ware Safe?
Leaching Cone 6 Glaze Case Study
Limit Formulas and Target Formulas
Low Budget Testing of the Raw and Fired Properties of a Glaze
Low Fire White Talc Casting Body Recipe
Make Your Own Ball Mill Stand
Making Glaze Testing Cones
Monoporosa or Single Fired Wall Tiles
Organic Matter in Clays: Detailed Overview
Outdoor Weather Resistant Ceramics
Overview of Paper Clay
Painting Glazes Rather Than Dipping or Spraying
Particle Size Distribution of Ceramic Powders
Porcelain Tile, Vitrified or Granito Tile
Rationalizing Conflicting Opinions About Plasticity
Ravenscrag Slip is Born
Recylcing Scrap Clay
Reducing the Firing Temperature of a Glaze From Cone 10 to 6
Single Fire Glazing
Soluble Salts in Minerals: Detailed Overview
Some Keys to Dealing With Firing Cracks
Stoneware Casting Body Recipes
Substituting Cornwall Stone
Super-Refined Terra Sigillata
The Chemistry, Physics and Manufacturing of Glaze Frits
The Effect of Glaze Fit on Fired Ware Strength
The Four Levels on Which to View Ceramic Glazes
The Majolica Earthenware Process
The Physics of Clay Bodies
The Potter's Prayer
The Right Chemistry for a Cone 6 MgO Matte
The Trials of Being the Only Technical Person in the Club
The Whining Stops Here: A Realistic Look at Clay Bodies
Those Unlabelled Bags and Buckets
Tiles and Mosaics for Potters
Toxicity of Firebricks Used in Ovens
Trafficking in Glaze Recipes
Understanding Ceramic Materials
Understanding Ceramic Oxides
Understanding Glaze Slurry Properties
Understanding the Deflocculation Process in Slip Casting
Understanding the Terra Cotta Slip Casting Recipes In North America
Understanding Thermal Expansion in Ceramic Glazes
Unwanted Crystallization in a Cone 6 Glaze
Variegating Glazes
Volcanic Ash
What Determines a Glaze's Firing Temperature?
What is a Mole, Checking Out the Mole
What is the Glaze Dragon?
Where Do I Start?
Why Textbook Glazes Are So Difficult

I've Always Done It This Way!

Description

If you are a potter and have gotten away with pushing the limits in your process for many years there will eventually be a day of reconing. It is better to understand why you do things the way you do and be ready to adjust.

Article

For every mile of highway there is two miles of ditch! If we compare on-going pottery production to a highway, then many of us spend some time in the ditches with troubles. It is hard to accept a kiln load of warped, bloated, dunted or crazed ware or a drying rack of cracked pots.

I've seen some potters cry and others go bankrupt when unable to solve a problem. That's why I'd like to promote a middle-of-the-road approach to production practices and an understanding of the trade-offs of your process and materials. If you think you have a process or a clay body that enables you to break the rules, think again. Materials, bodies, and your process vary, you need to have some margin-for-error to prevent problems. THE NATURE OF CERAMICS IS THAT IF YOU DO YOUR BEST AND YOUR SUPPLIERS DO THEIR BEST THERE WILL STILL BE PROBLEMS.

For the sake of argument, lets assume you're in trouble. You think the clay is the problem. You need to solve the problem. Let's consider some viewpoints that can get in the way of doing that:

I've always done things the same and now there is a problem, it is not my fault: Have you really always done it this way? Are there changes you have overlooked? Is the way you have always done it the best way? If you have been "driving on the shoulder" by taking shortcuts in the forming, drying or firing process then is being in the ditch a surprise? Is it possible that no supply company to deliver the kind of consistency that your "push-the-envelope" process requires.

We are too busy, we don't have time to change our process: By understanding every detail of the process and optimizing accordingly industry has figured out how to fire ware in less than a hour cold to cold. Maybe you could analyze your situation and solve the problem and cut time. Clay manufacturers are happy to help. Call them early. Remember, each clay has a complex personality. It is often better to work out the problem then start over with a new body. However be ready to switch if an evaluation demonstrates the need.

I'll worry about making the ware, the clay manufacturer can worry about keeping the clay consistent: First, are you paying due attention to 'making the ware'? What condition is your kiln in? Does it fire evenly? Do you really know what temperature it fires to? How do you dry ware? Do you stress test your glaze to make sure it won't craze and pieces won't crack on sudden heating or cooling? Second, how trusting are you? At Plainsman Clays we've been burned enough times that we cannot afford to take this view with our refined clay suppliers. We do test each clay body run for many physical properties and compensate recipes to smooth out variations. But we do not test for things like thermal expansion, ultimate particle size, chemistry, and mineralogy. If you like to run your business on the shoulder of the highway, variations in these could put you into the ditch.

I don't need to know that technical stuff, just give me a good clay and glaze recipe and I'll do the rest: How do you know what to do in the event of a problem if you don't know technical stuff? 'Doing the rest' involves dealing with variations in your process.

I've been potting for 20 years, I know what I am doing: Old habits die hard and can bring trouble. No matter what experience you have, the wise course is to be open to logical reasoning on why you should do something differently. Depending heavily on a traditional but shakey technique will bring a day of reckoning.

So-and-so said this is my problem: Did they explain logically why?

This body is crazing my glazes: Glazes craze because their thermal expansion does not match the body. You have to change one or the other. Firing slower just hides the misfit problem, time will display it. There is only one fix: adjusting the thermal expansion of a glaze. It is easy. You should be using an adjustable glaze so you can fine tune on an ongoing basis. You should be doing ice-water:boiling-water testing. Check digitalfire.com for more information.

Do you understand the tradeoffs of your body and process? For example, vitreous bodies tend to warp. Vitreous stonewares may tend to bloat on overfiring. Highly plastic ones tend to crack on drying. Porous functional ware bodies will leak and break easily. Low-silica or high feldspar glazes contribute to crazing. Misfitted glazes severely impact ware strength. Etc. Understanding your clay body and being in contact with the manufacturer is good. Plainsman Clays, for example, publishes very detailed body data sheets at its web site at www.plainsmanclays.com. You are free to email any time about a body problem, don't suffer and suffer without seeking help.

We are all going to weave on the one-way highway of ceramic production, but if you are near the middle you will stay out of the ditch.

By Tony Hansen


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