This is the L3954B engobe. 15% Mason 6600 black body stain has been added (instead of the normal 10% Zircopax for white). Of course, a cover glaze is needed for a functional surface, thickly applied engobes must have the same fired maturity as the body for good fit. Lots of information is available on using L3954B (including mixing and adjustment instructions). Engobes are tricky to use, follow the links below to learn more. L3954B is designed to work on regular Plainsman M340 (this piece), M390 and Coffee Clay (it is not a porcelain but has adjustable maturity to be fitted to them if needed). These bodies dry better than porcelains and are much less expensive, so coating them with an engobe to get a surface like this makes a lot of sense.
This is part of a project to fit an engobe (slip) onto a terra cotta at cone 02 using the EBCT test.
Left: On drying the red body curls the bi-clay strip toward itself, but on firing it goes the other way!
Right: SHAB test bars of the white slip and red body enable comparing their drying and firing shrinkages.
Center back: A mug with the white engobe and a transparent overglaze. The slip is going translucent under the glaze because it is too vitreous. Its higher fired shrinkage curls the bi-clay bars toward itself. Reducing the frit will reduce the firing shrinkage and make it more opaque (because it will melt less).
Front: A different, more vitreous red body (Zero3 stoneware) fits the slip better (the strips dry and fire straight).
This is how bad the fit can actually be. In the front is a bi-clay EBCT test strip of a grogged cone 10R sculpture clay sandwiched with a porcelain. After drying this bar was relatively straight. The back bar bent quite a bit even after bisque. But the bend on the front bar really shows the misfit. But this is not a thermal expansion issue where volume changes are measured in 100ths of a mm - these plastic bodies shrink 5-8% during firing, that is up to 8mm change in these 10cm long cars, that is the kind of volume change needed to make this happen. The porcelain has the higher fired shrinkage so it pulls the bar toward itself. The internal stress makes this bar a time bomb, waiting for a mechanical or thermal trigger to burst it into a hundred pieces. Admittedly, putting a thin layer of this porcelain onto a piece of heavy ware is not going to bend it - but the stresses of the porcelain being stretched-bonded will still be there, seeking relief (likely exhibited by cracking or flaking).
This black engobe, L3954B, is on a cone 6 buff stoneware (at leather hard stage). Because a thin layer works well with this high-opacity engobe it is possible for the slurry to be more fluid, less gelled. An immediate benefit of this is that it dries more quickly (enabling handling of the piece within a few hours). Another benefit is a much more even coverage than would be possible with more a viscous consistency. The thinner layer also means much fewer issues with flaking during drying. However, application of the engobe takes patience, waiting for drips to stop and gelling to set in and hold it in place.
L3954B - Cone 6 Engobe (for M340)
Dry and firing shrinkage fitted to Plainsman M390, M340
The L3954B engobe page at PlainsmanClays.com explains how to mix and use it on Plainsman clays bodies at cone 6.
Mason 6600 Black Stain
A cobalt-containing stain useful in bodies, engobes and glazes at a wide range of temperatures.
Engobes are high-clay slurries that are applied to leather hard or dry ceramics. They fire opaque and are used for functional or decorative purposes. They are formulated to match the firing shrinkage and thermal expansion of the body.
Thixotropy is a property of ceramic slurries. Thixotropic suspensions flow when you want them to and then gel after sitting for a few moments. This phenomenon is helpful in getting even, drip free glaze coverage.