Modified: 2019-08-12 14:21:57
A base MgO matte glaze recipe fires to a hard utilitarian surface and has very good working properties. Blend in the glossy if it is too matte.
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A cone 6 boron-fluxed MgO matte developed at Plainsman Clays by Tony Hansen (a link below will take you to its page there). This page contains technical and mixing information about the recipe.
This recipe has the best suspension and application properties when it is thixotropic (that involves mixing it thinner than normal and gelling it using Epsom salts). Target a specific gravity of 1.43-1.44 (about 90 water to 100 powder, by weight; that means that in 1900g of slurry there is 900 water and 1000 powder). Then about add 1g of Epsom salts per 1000g powder to increase thixotropy. This should make it creamy and it should gel after a few seconds on standing still (add more Epsom salts if needed, but be careful, it is easy to over-do it).
Screen through 80 mesh (there are tiny agglomerates that will not break down without screening).
Important note: The degree of matteness is very dependent on the cooling rate of the firing. In our circumstances, fast cooling (e.g. free-fall in a lightly-loaded or smaller kiln) produces the desired silky matte surface and slow cooling (e.g. a heavily loaded kiln) produces a matter and drier surface. The G2934Y version of this recipe (a chemistry-equivalent that sources much of the MgO from a frit) is also subject to this. Do test firings to determine if your cooling rate will accommodate this or whether you need to blend in some glossy G2926B to shine it up a little (for example, try 75% matte and 25% glossy, the mixing can be done by simply pouring together, volumetrically, the two slurries). One more thing: Certain colors will matte this more than others, so specific adjustments might be needed. Again: Be sure to control production firings so their rate-of-cooling matches that of the test firings you do to develop a glaze.
In the silky state that we prefer it does not cutlery mark and has good (but not too much melt flow). The development process for this glaze showcases the value of looking at glazes as formulas of oxides rather than recipes of materials and paying close attention to firing schedules.
The calcined kaolin is needed (if you use all raw kaolin the glaze will shrink and crack during drying and crawl during firing). If you do not have calcined kaolin make your own by bisque-firing a container of kaolin powder. If you do not have EP Kaolin, just substitute another. If it settles convert some of the calcined kaolin to raw. If it does not dry hard enough or does not suspend well, use more raw kaolin and less calcined.*
Although this is a matte glaze it flows well (it is well melted). If fired ware has pinholes the solution lies elsewhere. Bisque ware as high as possible. If you gel the slurry a little, or preheat the ware, you can bisque even higher. Try applying a thinner glaze layer and use whatever technique necessary to get an even and quality laydown. If still needed, consider using the double-soak firing schedule.
Plainsmanclays.com makes this recipe as a premixed powder.
*If you adjust raw:calcined kaolin proportions more than 5%: Raw kaolin has 12% weight loss on firing, more is needed to supply the same amount of SiO2 and Al2O3 to the fired glaze. For example, if you drop the calcined kaolin by 5 you need to increase the raw kaolin by 5.6 to maintain the same overall chemistry (5 + (5 x 12% / 100 = 5.6). If your kaolin is not too plastic you might be able to use all raw kaolin (18.3 + 13.9 + (13.9 x 12% / 100) = 34.
G2934 is a popular matte for cone 6 (far left). The mechanism of the matteness is high MgO content (it produces a more pleasant surface that cutlery marks and stains less than other mechanisms such as crystallization or insufficient melting). But what if it is too matte for you? This recipe requires accurate firings, did your kiln really go to cone 6? Proven by a firing cone? If it did, then we need plan B: Add some glossy to shine it up a bit. I fired these ten-gram GBMF test balls of glaze to cone 6 on porcelain tiles, they melted down into nice buttons that display the surface well. Top row proceeding right: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% G2926B added (100% far right). Bottom: G2916F in the same proportions. The effects are similar but the top one produces a more pebbly surface.
Matte glazes have a fragile mechanism. That means the same recipe will be more matte for some people, more glossy for others (due to material, process and firing differences). In addition, certain colors will matte the base more and others will gloss it more. It is therefore critical for matte glaze recipes to have adjustability (a way to change the degree of gloss), both for circumstances and colors. This recipe is Plainsman G2934 base matte with 6% Mason 6600 black stain added. It has been formulated to be on the more matte side of the scale so that for most people a simple addition of G2926B (M370 transparent ultra clear base recipe) will increase the gloss. That means users need to be prepared to adjust each color of the matte to fine-tune its degree of gloss. Here you can see 5:95, 10:90, 15:85 and 20:80 blends of the matte:gloss recipe bases.
Stains can work surprisingly well in matte base glazes (provided they are not too matte). Stains perform differently in a matte host glaze. The glass is less transparent and so varying thickness do not produce as much variation is tint. Notice how low many of the stain percentages are: yet most of the colors are still bright. A good reason to minimize stain concentration is to avoid leaching. We tested 6600, 6350, 6300, 6021 and 6404 overnight in lemon juice, they passed without any visible changes. It is known that MgO mattes, like this one, are less prone to acid attack that CaO mattes. A down-side to this matte mechanism is that chrome-tin stains do not work (e.g. 6006), this is because this does not have the high CaO content needed in the host glaze to develop the color. The inclusion stains 6021 and 6027 work very well in this base. As do the 6450 yellow and 6364 blue. And the 6600 produces an incredible gunmetal black. The 6385 is an error, it should be purple (that being said, do not use it, it is ugly in this base).
The body is Plainsman M390. These are commonly-used base glazes. The top one is an MgO matte, next down is a calcium matte. They react very differently to these additions. Notice also the difference when titanium dioxide is applied thickly. Tin oxide fires whiter than zircon (e.g. Zircopax). Each opacifier has issues. Tin is expensive. Titanium is difficult to mix into the slurry (screening required), not as white or opaque, variations in thickness produce more difference in results and it can turn blue. Zircon is more likely to cutlery mark, twice as much is required and it amplifies the color of any iron present.
These cone 6 porcelain mugs have glossy liner glazes and matte outers: VC71 (left) crazes, G2934 does not (it is highlighted using a felt marker and solvent). Crazing, while appropriate on non-functional ware, is unsanitary and severely weakens the ware (up to 300%). If your ware develops this your customers will bring it back for replacement. What will you do? The thermal expansion of VC71 is alot higher. It is a product of the chemistry (in this case, high sodium and low alumina). No change in firing will fix this, the body and glaze are not expansion compatible. Period. The fix: Change bodies and start all over. Use another glaze. Or, adjust this recipe to reduce its thermal expansion.
The top glaze is VC71, a popular matte cone 6 glaze used by potters. Bottom is G2934 matte, a public domain recipe produced by Plainsman Clays. The latter is a high-MgO matte, it melts well and does not cutlery mark or stain easily. As evidence that it is a true matte, notice that it is still matte when fired to cone 7 or 8. VC71, while having a similar pleasant silky matte surface at cone 6, converts to a glossy if fired higher. This suggests that the cone 6 matteness is due to incomplete melting. For the same reason, it is whiter in color (as soon as it begins to melt and have depth the color darkens).
An example of how a spoon can cutlery mark a glaze. This is a popular middle temperature recipe used by potters. The mechanism of its matteness is a high percentage of zinc oxide that creates a well-melted glaze that fosters the growth of a mesh of surface micro-crystals. However these crystals create tiny angular protrusions that abrade metal, leaving a mark. Notice the other matte flow on the left (G2934), it not only has a better surface (more silky feel) but also melts much less (its mechanism is high MgO in a boron fluxed base). It is does not cutlery mark at all!
G2934 cone 6 matte (left) with 10% zircopax (center), 4% tin oxide (right). Although the cutlery marks clean off all of them, clearly the zircopax version has the worst problem and is the most difficult to clean. To make the best possible quality white it is wise to line blend in a glossy glaze to create a compromise between the most matteness possible yet a surface that does not mark or stain.
Left: a cone 6 matte glaze (G2934 with no colorant). Middle: 5% Mason 6006 chrome-tin red stain added. Right: 5% Mason 6021 encapsulated red stain added. Why is there absolutely no color in the center glaze? This host recipe does not have the needed chemistry to develop the #6006 chrome-tin color (it lacks sufficient CaO and has alot of MgO). Yet this same matte glaze intensifies the #6021 encapsulated stain at only 5% (using 20% or more encapsulated stain is to develop the color is not unusual).
A melt fluidity comparison between two cone 6 matte glazes. G2934 is an MgO saturated boron fluxed glaze that melts to the right degree, forms a good glass, has a low thermal expansion, resists leaching and does not cutlery mark. G2000 is a much-trafficked cone 6 recipe, it is fluxed by zinc to produce a surface mesh of micro-crystals that not only mattes but also opacifies the glaze. But it forms a poor glass, runs too much, cutlery marks badly, stains easily, crazes and is likely not food safe! The G2934 recipe is google-searchable and a good demonstration of how the high-MgO matte mechanism (from talc) creates a silky surface at cone 6 oxidation the same as it does at cone 10 reduction (from dolomite). However it does need a tin or zircon addition to be white.
The body is Plainsman M390. Firing is the cone 6 PLC6DS schedule. Each horizontal row is a commonly-used base glaze. The top one is an MgO matte, the next one down is a calcium matte, row 3 is G2926B glossy and row 4 is Ravenscrag Slip+frit. The two mattes behave very differently from each other with the additions of opacifier. Thickly applying an opacified glaze will obviously affect visual character (column 4). Tin oxide fires whiter than zircon (e.g. Zircopax). If you like the G2934 recipe, consider the G2934Y variant for better melting.
This contains 6% Mason 6600 black stain (Mason 6666 gives dark brown, don't use it). The base recipe, G2934, is an excellent balanced-chemistry host for a wide range of stains to produce equally stunning reds, yellows, oranges, etc. The fritted version of the recipe, G2934Y, provides an even better host. This glaze is affected by the clay it is on. The body on the right is highly vitreous, this has produced a finer texture that glistens in the light. The body on the left is a whiteware having 1% porosity (Plainsman M370). Firing schedule is also a factor, slower cooling will dull the color more. We use the PLC6DS firing schedule.
These are 10 gram GBMF test balls that we melted on porcelain tiles at cone 4 (top two) and cone 6 (bottom two). They compare the melt fluidity of G2934 (left) and G2934Y (right). The Y version sources its MgO from frit and talc (rather than dolomite). It is a much more fluid melt because the frit is yielding the oxides more readily. But Y has a key benefit: It has a much lower LOI, producing fewer entrained air bubbles and therefore fewer surface defects. And, even though it runs much more, it has the same matte surface! As long as it is applied at normal thickness, the extra melt fluidity does not cause any running. And it has another benefit: Less cutlery marking issues. It is actually a very durable and practical food surface glaze, having a low thermal expansion that fits almost any body. Although these appear glossy here, on ware they have the identical pleasant silky matte surface.
On the right is the G2934Y matte base recipe with only 8% Cerdec Orange encapsulated stain. G2934Y employs a frit-source for the MgO (as opposed to G2934 which sources the MgO from dolomite). If this was a glossy glaze the required percentage of stain would be higher. Other colors (like yellow, red, blue, black), are equally vibrant. But not all (e.g. purple), testing is needed. The porcelain is Plainsman Polar Ice.
These mugs have just finished immersion into ice water from 300F (IWCT test). Twice. The LA Matt is crazing but the G2934 is still good. And its surface is more silky and more pleasant to the touch. It is whiter because of a 4% tin oxide addition. This is a glaze surface that would be excellent on most cone 6 porcelains. Remember, if you need to adjust the matteness, just add a little glossy to the batch.
We are looking at two pairs of samples, they demonstrate why knowing about glaze chemistry can be so important. Both pairs are the same glazes: G2934 cone 6 matte and G2916F cone 6 glossy. The left pair has 5% maroon stain added, the right pair 5% purple stain. The red and purple develop correctly in the glossy but not the matte. Why? The Mason Colorworks reference guide has the same precaution for both stains: the host glaze must be zincless and have 6.7-8.4% CaO (this is a little unclear, it is actually expressing a minimum, the more the CaO the better). The left-most samples of each pair here have 11% CaO, the right-most have 9%. So there is enough CaO. The problem is MgO (it is the mechanism of the matteness in the left two), it impedes the development of both colors. When you talk to tech support at any stain company they need to know the chemistry of your glaze to help.
This is G2934Y (a version of the G2934 cone 6 matte base recipe that supplies much of the MgO from a frit instead of dolomite). Like the original, it has a beautiful fine silky matte surface and feels like it would not cutlery mark. But, as you can see on the left, it does! The marks can be cleaned off easily. But still, this is not ideal. The degree of matteness that a glaze has is a product of its chemistry. But can we fix this without doing any chemistry? Yes. By blending this with G2926B clear glossy (90:10 proportions) the marks are gone and the surface is only slightly changed.
I am getting closer to reduction speckle in oxidation. I make my own speckle by mixing the body and a glossy glaze 50:50 and adding 10% black stain. Then I slurry it, dry it, fire it in a crucible I make from alumina, crush it by hand and screen it. I am using G2934 cone 6 magnesia matte as the glaze on this mug on the left. To it I added 0.5% minus 20 mesh speck. Right is a cone 10R dolomite matte mug. Next I am going to screen out the smallest specks, switch to a matte glaze when making the specks (they are too shiny here), switch to dark brown stain. Later we will see if the specks need to bleed a little more. I am now pretty well certain I am going to be able to duplicate very well the reduction look in my oxidation kiln. I will publish the exactly recipe and technique as soon as I have it.
G2000 - LA Matte Cone 6 Matte White
A silky zinc-fluxed matte used historically across North America
G2934Y - Cone 6 Magnesia Matte Low LOI Version
The same chemistry as the widely used G2934 but the MgO is sourced from a frit and talc instead of dolomite. It has a finer surface, less cutlery marking and staining.
G2926B - Cone 6 Whiteware/Porcelain Transparent Base Glaze
A base transparent glaze recipe created by Tony Hansen for Plainsman Clays, it fires high gloss and ultra clear with low melt mobility.
G2928C - Ravenscrag Silky Matte for Cone 6
Plainsman Cone 6 Ravenscrag Slip based glaze. It can be found among others at http://ravenscrag.com.
G1214Z - Cone 6 Silky Matte
This glaze was born as a demonstration of how to use chemistry to convert a glossy cone 6 glaze into a matte.
Understanding your transparent glaze and learning how to adjust its melt fluidity, thermal expansion, color response, etc is a base on which to build all your other glazes.
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 coverage.
A way of establishing guideline for each oxide in the chemistry for different ceramic glaze types. Understanding the roles of each oxide and the limits of this approach are a key to effectively using these guidelines.
Random material mixes that melt well overwhelmingly want to be glossy, creating a matte glaze that is also functional is not an easy task.
Dolomite matte glazes have the potential to be very silky and pleasant to the touch, while at the same time being hard, durable and non-crazed (if they are formulated correctly).
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