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Why you need to make your own glazes, fire your own kilns

Are you a potter that depends on glazes made by others? Do you have your ware fired in someone else's kiln? Cannot mix clay body tests? Then the evolution of the quality and aesthetics of your work is being stunted. This mug is a good example of why. This is G3933, version 1 of an oatmeal we made by adding iron, rutile and tin to a 75:25 blend of our base matte and glossy glazes. It is crawling at a few sharp angles of the incised decoration, that means it needs a little CMC gum. And, it is not quite matte enough, we need to switch to an 80:20 blend. Third, the red-burning body gives better color at cone 5, and this glaze melts well in a C5DHSC slow cool firing. So I will include it with other cone 5 bodies and glazes we are testing (because I want to move down from cone 6 to save energy and elements). Finally, I would like the glaze a little darker so I will test increases in the rutile and iron. All of these changes are on my radar because I make my own glazes and have my own test kiln.

Why you need to make your own glazes, fire your own kilns

Related Pictures

Testing your own native clays is easier that you might think

Simple tests being done on a found clay

Some simple equipment is all you need. You can do practical tests to characterize a clay in your own studio or workshop (e.g. our SHAB test, DFAC test, SIEV test, LDW test). You need a gram scale (accurate to 0.01g) and set of calipers (check Amazon.com). 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, and learn from, all the measurement data collected. An account at insight-live.com is perfect.

A small 220V electric test kiln

Very well endowed with elements. From the back view you can see how simple the wiring is on a kiln like this.

The recipe mixing area of Tony Hansen

This is my lab work area of mineral, frit, chemical, stain and metal oxide powders for mixing test glazes and clay bodies. Not shown is my propeller mixer, perhaps the most important piece of equipment we have. And my plaster table for dewatering clay body slurries. Building up something like this, over time, is practical for any serious potter, most of these powders are inexpensive. Within minutes I can plan and enter a recipe into my Insight-live.com account, give it a code number, print it and weight it out.


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