|Monthly Tech-Tip |
These are iron reduction test bodies. The L4168G (left) is far stronger yet it has a higher percentage of Fe2O3 and much more black coring. How is that possible? Because it has 10% added feldspar. The black FeO iron is staining the feldspar black (bleeding out from each pyrite particle), helping it do its job of producing a glassy black color is not coming from the kiln atmosphere? Because the buff-burning bodies in the same kiln did not have any of this. On the right, the iron is restricted by its ability to vitrify the body by limited glass development, ending up destabilizing it instead (by increasing body thermal expansion).
These mugs were fired at cone 10R. The body is L4168G5, I mixed it myself using 50% Plainsman Saint Rose Red, 40% Plainsman A2, 10% Custer feldspar. The Saint Rose clay contributes the color, the A2 the speckle and plasticity and the feldspar matures the body enough to avoid black coring. The heavy iron specking is being sourced by these very unique clays, both were ground at 42 mesh only. The left glaze is GR10-CW Ravenscrag Talc matte with added Zircopax. The right one has that same glaze on the inside and G2571A bamboo matte on the outside. The unglazed body is a beautiful deep red. These are certainly not porcelain strength but the glazes fit, the mugs are durable and serviceable for normal use. This type of ware is the domain of potters only, no industry would be able or even want to make them.
This is an example of one of John Prosser's "house mugs". They have been fracturing. Partially broken ones are spring-loaded like this. All broken pieces have black coring. Of course when thick-walled, high carbon, high iron bodies are fired without a previous bisque in heavy reduction one can expect true black coring (where Fe2O3 and CO2 react to form a body matrix hostile to even slight thermal shock). But none of these factors are present. Of course, testing could be done to bisque these higher, soak longer in the bisque, start reduction later, and oxidize longer at the end. But these measures will not likely be enough. The outer surface could be put on as an engobe over a vitreous body (but lots of work using the EBCT test would be needed because of the difference in firing shrinkage).
Stepping back consider: These black cored sections are unglazed. When iron reduces it turns black so the color black alone does not mean official black coring. When there is enough feldspar to form a good measure of vitrification (as is the case with this body) one can expect it to be suitable for light duty functional ware. Magnesia mattes like this have low thermal expansion because they contain a lot of MgO, a super low expansion flux. That puts them under compression on the body, a lot of unglazed external surface like this compounds the problem. The solution is to raise glaze expansion, something fairly easy to do in high fire. Just increase the KNaO at the expense of CaO.
A common fault in reduction gas fired ceramic ware made from iron bearing clays. The interior cross section of the clay turns black.