|Monthly Tech-Tip |
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. 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.
Physical data. Data about the working, drying and firing properties that can measured. These test bars show how stable this unusual terra cotta body, L4170B, is across a wide temperature range (from cone 8 down to 06)! Using the SBAB test procedure, I measured the shrinkage and porosity of each bar (and recorded the data in my Insight-live group account, it displays it like the black and red chart shown). I also made test bars of a super-white engobe, L3685Z3, and compiled the same data. That enabled two approaches to fitting engobe-to-body. First, isolate a temperature at which both have the same fired shrinkage, and are therefore compatible. Unfortunately there isn't one, the white engobe has much lower fired shrinkage at all practical temperatures! Option 2 is to add frit to the white engobe to make it as vitreous as the body. I started with a 5% addition of Ferro Frit 3110. At my target temperature, cone 02, that increased the shrinkage from 2.1% to 5.5% (this red body is 4.3%). So 5% frit is too much. So, the next move is clear, I will try 3% frit. It will only be necessary to test it at the one temperature. Because both engobe and body and not volatile, I am confident in just testing at cone 02.
This is an Epson LW-600P (replaced by the LW-PX400 in 2021, but still available on eBay). 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 on to a label (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. We find the yellow 18mm labels work well to display code numbers (the white 22mm for detail). The cartridges snap in in seconds so it is easy to change them. While the printer does support blue-tooth, enabling anyone with a phone to use the device, for routine label-making it works best when USB-connected on a desktop computer (the app works better and there is no waiting).
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.
A cloud-hosted ceramics-targetted LIMS (lab info management system) where technicians manage, develop, adjust and study their recipes, materials and processes.