|Monthly Tech-Tip |
The right side of this bisque-fired clay bar (which has about 15% porosity) has been surface-treated with a silicone sealant. It repels the water, the drop rolls around on the surface if I tilt the bar. The drop on the left side absorbed into the clay in seconds.
On the loss of talc earlier this year we had to reformulate a low fire white burning body to use dolomite instead, recipe L4410P (like talc it raises thermal expansion to ensure fit of commercial glazes). As its advantages and disadvantages become evident we have been documenting them on the Snow page. A recent revelation has been the matter of rehydration of the limestone (dolomite is ground limestone): Bisque firing dehydrates it. The dolomite particles are neutralized somewhat by being isolated and having reacted to some extent with neighbouring clay and feldspar particles. Further, during dehydration, they leave considerable porosity into which they should be able to reexpand later if needed. This photo demonstrates something we have not seen in our dry climate: These 3D-printed bisque pieces have spontaneously cracked after sitting around for some time in the much damper climate of southern Ontario. In some cases, swelling occurs around the cracks. Until we can further tune the recipe to chemically tie up the dolomite take some precautions when using this type of body. Glaze ware soon after bisquing. Dry it as quickly as possible after glazing. If any surface has not been glazed then render it impervious to water penetration by using a silicone sealer. Photo courtesy of Nilou Ghaemi, Sheridan College.
The clay is Plainsman Snow fired at cone 04. August 2022 by Nina Berinstein. Very thin and light pieces can be made without danger of warping during firing (because this clay as zero fired shrinkage). This piece was treated with Mod Podge, this has sealed it against water penetration and not affected the appearance or texture.
Clay body does not hold water
Many ceramics are either porous by nature or by necessity. For example, stonewares need to be non-vitreous enough that they do not warp or blister on firing. Red earthenwares must be porous in order to have the red color (they go brown when fired higher). White talc or dolomite low-fire clay bodies always have high porosity. Bricks must have minimal firing shrinkage, which guarantees substantial porosity. Even porcelains can blister and it is common to cut back on feldspar to give them more margin for overfiring - that brings porosity. If water penetration must be prevented all of these need to be sealed, these are some of the methods.
Outdoor Weather Resistant Ceramics
How can you be sure that the porosity of your fired ceramic ware is low enough to prevent freeze-thaw breakdown in the winter?