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A cloud-hosted ceramics-targetted LIMS (lab info management system) enabling collection, organization and learning from data to develop, adjust and study their recipes, materials and processes.

Key phrases linking here: insight-live - Learn more


Digitalfire is a cloud-hosted lab notebook and education platform targeted at ceramics. Users login using a web browser and employ personal or group accounts to search and manage and study their recipes, materials, firing schedules, projects, testing records and related pictures. Accounts are private and used by potters, educators, ceramic engineers and technicians.

Insight-live is a product of Digitalfire Corporation and has been in operation since 2012. It is the successor to the Desktop Insight software (for Windows, Linux, Mac) which had been available since 1980. Users of that were able to import their data.

Insight-live presents information in tall panels that open right-ward across the screen (this enables side-by-side viewing and comparing of recipes, materials, firing schedules, pictures, etc).


In summary, an account is about ongoing organized testing, adjustment and development of glazes and bodies (and the learning that goes with that). It is about keeping an audit trail. Many people start with an insight-live account just to support our work, but over time they accumulate motivation to use it when they reach a critical point of need and awareness of the value.

Related Information

Click here for case-studies of Insight-Live fixing problems

Insight-live help button

You will see examples of replacing unavailable materials (especially frits), fixing various issues (e.g. running, crazing, settling), making them melt more, adjusting matteness, etc. Insight-Live has an extensive help system (the round blue icon on the left) that also deals with fixing real-world problems and understanding glazes and clay bodies.

An example of a production log book that a ceramic industry worker keeps

Unfortunately, it is in his pocket, not available to lab personnel. This could (should) be replaced by a group account at

Here's how we used to record test results before

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.

Is this your record keeping system?

A messy binder that someone uses to store their glaze recipes

Keeping your valuable notes like this? Recipes? Test results? Are your pictures lost in a cellphone with no keywords or connections to anything? If you test and develop you need to organize in a way that a book cannot do. Like link recipes to each other and other things like pictures and firing schedules. You need to group test recipes in projects, classify them. Calculate chemistry and mix tickets. Research materials. Do keyword searches. Book and binder records do not do this. Your account at does!

Reason 1 for record keeping in an account

Notes. It is a much better place to take notes than that old binder you use. And the chance of losing them is the same as the chance of losing the phone that you access them with. No, wait, it is way less. Because any internet connected phone or device with a browser can be used.

Code numbers are the key to organizing your studio or lab

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 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. Glazed fired pieces can have up to three numbers, the body, engobe and glaze. If something is lacking a number it goes in the garbage because it teaches nothing and is therefore taking up pointless space.

Testing your own native clays is easier than you think

Simple tests being done on a found clay

Some simple equipment is all you need. You can do practical tests to characterize a local clay in your own studio or workshop (e.g. our SHAB test, DFAC test, SIEV test, LDW test). You need a gram scale (preferably accurate to 0.01g) and a set of callipers (check Some metal sieves (search "Tyler Sieves" on Ebay). A stamp to mark samples with code and specimen numbers. A plaster table or slab. A propeller mixer. And, of course, a test kiln. And you need a place to put all the measurement data collected and learn from it (e.g. an account at

Stuck at home with no ceramic supplies? Time to organize!

The binder you used to keep records in. The computer and phone we should use now.

Are your records in a messy binder? You could be using an account at! Move your recipes first, assigning each a code number. Then, in your studio/lab, label every fired sample, bucket, jar, glaze test, bag with the corresponding code number. Put in pictures for each recipe. Enter your firing schedules. Research the solutions to issues you are facing with glazes at the Digitalfire Reference Library (ask us questions using the contact form on each of the thousands of pages there). Then start planning improvements and tests. Choose a recipe you need to improve/evolve, duplicate it, increment the code number, make changes, enter explanatory notes. With this preparation you will hit the ground running back at work.

Firing schedules at

A cone 11 oxidation firing schedule used at Plainsman Clays (maintained in our account at Using these schedules we can predict the end of a firing within 5-10 minutes at all temperatures. We can also link schedules to recipes and report a schedule so it can be taken to the kiln and used as a guide to enter the program.

The New 2020 Digitalfire Reference Library is Here

The Digitalfire Reference Library on desktop and smartphone

It has morphed into a webapp, reflexive and menu-driven (based on Twitter Bootstrap). It now employs permanent URLs. And pages have logical, and hierarchical URLs (e.g., It correctly forwards 5000+ old URLs. Terms from the glossary automatically hotlink throughout (as do code-numbers for recipes, tests and firing schedules). The search field in the menu bar is area-specific (or all-area at Still no ads and no tracking. The UI displays from server #1, it calls the database API on #2, the email system on #3, media from #4 and from server #5! So it is super fast, flexible and expandable. There are new areas (e.g. projects, pictures, typecodes). Media displays better. Every page still has a contact form, so you can ask any question anywhere. What till you see what's coming!

Comparing two glazes having different mechanisms for their matteness

These are two cone 6 matte glazes (shown side by side in an account at Insight-live). G1214Z is high calcium and a high silica:alumina ratio. It crystallizes during cooling to make the matte effect and the degree of matteness is adjustable by trimming the silica content (but notice how much it runs). The G2928C has high MgO and it produces the classic silky matte by micro-wrinkling the surface, its matteness is adjustable by trimming the calcined kaolin. CaO is a standard oxide that is in almost all glazes, 0.4 is not high for it. But you would never normally see more than 0.3 of MgO in a cone 6 glaze (if you do it will likely be unstable). The G2928C also has 5% tin, if that was not there it would be darker than the other one because Ravenscrag Slip has a little iron. This was made by recalculating the Moore's Matte recipe to use as much Ravenscrag Slip as possible yet keep the overall chemistry the same. This glaze actually has texture like a dolomite matte at cone 10R, it is great. And it has wonderful application properties. And it does not craze, on Plainsman M370 (it even survived a 300F-to-ice water IWCT test). This looks like it could be a great liner glaze.

Fight the dragon on-line or off-line

Fight the glaze dragon! Test. Document. Learn. Repeat. Replace that paper notebook or binder with an account at Fix, adjust, formulate your own glaze on your PC using desktop Insight software.

Fight the dragon with Insight-live

Fight the glaze dragon. Disorganized documentation of your testing? You are playing into his hands. Replace that notebook or binder with pictures, recipes, firing schedules, test results, material and more in your own or a group account at

Inbound Photo Links

About to enter boiled weight of a test bar into my insight-live account.

Compiling test bar shrinkage and weights for Insight-live

Fired test bars to adjust a clay body
Fine tuning maturity of a buff stoneware: It is about the data


URLs cloud-based ceramic lab notebook and education platform
URLs Overview Video
Insight-live share showing how to fix crazing with cone 6 Leach's Clear
Digitalfire Insight Help WebApp
Case Study: Testing a Native Clay Using
Articles Changing Our View of Glazes
A big secret to getting control of glazes is to begin looking at them as formulas of oxides rather than recipes of materials.
Glossary Digitalfire Foresight
Database software for DOS made by Digitalfire from 1988 until 2005 and was used to by ceramic technicians to catalog recipes, materials, test results and pictures.
Glossary Digitalfire Insight
A downloadable program for Windows, Mac, Linux for doing classic ceramic glaze chemistry. It has been used around the world since the early 1980s.
Glossary Tony Hansen
Tony Hansen is the author of Digitalfire Insight, Digitalfire Reference Library and, he is a long-time potter, ceramic lab-technician and body and glaze developer.
Glossary Glaze Mixing
In ceramics, glazes are developed and mixed as recipes of made-made and natural powdered materials. Many potters mix their own, you can to. There are many advantages.
Glossary 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.
Media Preparing Pictures for Insight-live
How to take a picture using an iPhone, crop and resample it, save it, then upload it to a recipe.
Media Entering Shrinkage/Porosity Data Into Insight-Live
An example of how to enter test results from your ceramic testing into recipes in your account at
Media Enter a Recipe Into Insight-live
Learn how to add a recipe, title it, add lines and change them, set lines to added status, deal with unrecognized materials, enter notes and pictures and print a mix ticket
Media How to Paste a Recipe Into Insight-live
If your recipe is on the clipboard, this shows you how to import it into Insight-live and make adjustments after.
By Tony Hansen
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