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Code Numbering

In a ceramics lab, studio or classroom specimens of hundreds of glazes and bodies may be present. A code numbering system that links these to written or computer records is essential.


With no testing there is no development and improvement. Record keeping is essential when you are trying new recipes or doing formulation, adjustment or trouble shooting projects. But without good observation and record keeping little will be learned from the work done. It is amazing how strange a glaze test can look a couple of weeks after doing (it if you have no records)! Even hobby potters who use bottled commercial glazes find themselves testing dozens, or even hundreds of body/glaze or glaze/glaze combinations. Likewise, plant technicians at manufacturing facilities find themselves constantly testing new offerings by suppliers. Even if you have not organized your testing and thus find yourself drowning in a mountain of test specimens already done, it is never too late to catch up.

Code numbers are the link between written records and their pictures, data and fired samples. Even if you choose to discard fired samples after taking pictures, the code number is still a unique identifier for labelling buckets, bags, boxes, reference samples, etc. And for searching within Insight-live.

Insight-live recommends a code number of format X1234, where "X" is the type of test (e.g. lab test, production mix, glaze, body engobe) and '1234' is a sequential number that increments for each new record you add to the system. For a glaze recipe test, for example, code number your first test as "G0001". After that Insight-live will automatically number the next one as G0002, etc. When all the code numbers have 5 digits like this they sort in order. For development projects, where a glaze is being adjusted in some way, add a suffix (e.g. G0001A, G0001B, etc).

Related Information

Never do body or glaze testing without code numbers

That is how you know what it is. The recipe. The firing schedule. The notes. The project it was in, information about what came before it and what developed from it. These mugs and that test bar are the same clay, I am doing a preliminary test on a new material from our quarry, it is called "Battle Clay".

This is a key to organizing your studio, lab or teaching facility

The new ceramics is about data! Everything here has a code number (in the form x1234) that members of our team can search in our group account at insight-live.com. We write the numbers on the bottoms of pots, plastic bags of powders/liquids/pugged, buckets, glaze balls, mix tickets, test bars, tiles, glaze samples, drying tests, flow tests, sieve analyses, LOI/water content tests, etc. Many pots have two numbers, the body and the glaze. If something is lacking a number it goes in the garbage because it teaches nothing and is therefore taking up pointless space.

Preparing bars for the SHAB, LOI and DFAC tests

Preparing bars for the SHAB, LOI and DFAC tests

The clay was wedged thoroughly, rolled to 3/8 thickness (using the metal rods as gauges) and cut to 12cm long by 2.5cm wide bars. Code numbers and specimen numbers were stamped on each bar (these are needed to enter data into Insight-live). For examle, notice that the bars have specimen numbers from 1 to 6. These will be fired at six different temperatures. The data measured from each, including the temperature, will be entered for the specimen to which it pertains. The 12cm disk is being cut from 1/8" thickness. Notice how the clay tears as cut, this is an indication of low plasticity.

Identifying throwing tests of clay bodies

If you are doing testing, and everyone should be testing body and glaze variations, then your ware needs to be identified. Do that with a code number that cross references into your documentation in your account at Insight-live.com.

Stamp used for stamping information onto clay test bars

This type of stamp is deal for stamping mix and ID information on SHAB (and many other test types) clay test bars. Set up the run or recipe number on the left and the specimen number on the right.

Every studio, lab, classroom needs a good label printer

This is an Epson LP-600. It generates durable water-proof labels that are perfect for identifying buckets and jars of materials and glazes. Apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. You can insert a QRCode (perfect for taking someone to an SDS or information page). Insight-live emphasizes assigning unique code numbers to all recipes you create and maintain, this is the perfect way to prominently display it. Label containers like this and there will never be confusion about what things are.

Here's how we used to record test results before insight-live.com

An example of how a potter presents side by side glaze recipe tests

Side-by-side presentation. That’s the best. But I magine if you could put, side by side; the recipes, pictures, notes, data, of any recipe test you had ever done. Even results of testing you did on commercial prepared glazes and glaze combinations. And be able to link, search, print, share them. That’s what you do in Insight-live. Pottery has always been about the data, we just let that information die before! Now we can learn so much more from it. Photo courtesy of Brielle Rovito, Burlington, Vermont, USA.


Glossary Insight-Live
A database website where potters and ceramic technician account holders enter their recipes, materials, pictures, test procedures, firing schedules, etc.

By Tony Hansen

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