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Monthly Tech-Tip from Tony Hansen

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Milk as a glaze! How is that possible?

In the youtube video (link below) a Karelian potter uses this technique to make cookware. He immerses pieces, while still hot from the bisque kiln, intp a bucket of milk. After a few seconds he withdraws them and they steam-dry quickly. I did not preheat these Plainsman L210 pieces, they were just bisque fired to 1850F. The Russian potter claims to milk-fire his ware to 300-350 degrees, assuming that is celsius I fired these at 500F/hr to 612F (350C), then held for 10 minutes. The surface is smooth and pleasant-to-touch, it is odor-free. The potter claims it retains this surface over many years despite repeated oven use. This clay body, L210, is well suited since it fires to a smooth unglazed surface. Indigenous cultures throughout history have learned how to prepare, cook and store food in terra cotta clays like this, they withstand thermal shock better than vitrified stonewares and porcelains. And continue to service even if they do crack.

Context: This translucent porcelain and terra cotta share something incredible, Front Brake Master Cylinder Repair Kit Kawasaki KEF 300 B Lakota, Casein on Wikipedia, PolyWhey coatings by Vermont Natural Coatings, Terra cotta, WEST AUSTRALIA POSTMARK ON SWAN STAMP RAVENSTHORPE 3B 1906

Saturday 30th April 2022

Step 18: Compare data, this and a typical terra cotta

The fired bars on the left are Plainsman L215 (with the material we are evaluating). These are a subset of the test bars, cone 4, 2, 02, 04, 06 (top to bottom), ~2150F down to ~1850F. The overlay graph shows pairs of firing shrinkage/porosity lines generated from the data we have been measuring, the descending ones plot increasing density with temperature and the ascending ones plot increasing shrinkage. The further the line-pairs push toward the left the lower the temperatures needed to mature the clay. Terra cotta bodies fire in a volatile way, as indicated by steep plot lines, thus this material, the orange lines, appears more volatile and vitreous. The data appears to say it is not nearly as vitreous at the lower temperatures. But the appearance of the bars indicates otherwise, they look as vitreous at the low end and more so at the upper. Why? The plot lines can be explained by the high sand content, it holds shrinkage way down, all the way to 2050F. And it inflates the porosity. But if that sand was not there, this clay would mature lower than the L215.

Context: Evaluating a native clay's suitability for pottery

Tuesday 26th April 2022

Drip glazing and bare outsides: Deceptively difficult.

Why? Vintage 90s Black Sabbath Ruined My Life Tour 1999 Ozzy Osborne. These are available on Aliexpress (as Drip Pottery or Drippy Pottery) and they are made by a manufacturer that has close control of body Omega HH520 Thermometer Four-Channel J,K,T,E Thermocouple Data L (and thus strength) and the capability to tune the thermal expansion fit of glaze-on-body. It has to fit better than normal because of the absence of an outside glaze. Too low an expansion and the compression (outward pressure) will fracture body (these are thin-walled pieces making them vulnerable). Too high and it will craze. And the glaze is thick, it will shiver or craze with far less forgiveness than a thin layer. And how did they get the glaze on this thick? They likely deflocculated it, up to 1.7 or more, glazed the inside, let it dry, then glazed the outside. These pieces are a visual and technical achievement. If you are a potter you had best think twice before attempting the same.

Context: Glaze at 1.7 specific gravity on green-ware. Way too thick!, Why are these vessels cracking when hot water is poured in?, Deflocculation, Drimesh Gloves Tourmaster Black Sm, Camp Barrel Collar For 2" Shafts, Glaze thickness

Tuesday 26th April 2022

Learn to mix any of your glazes for these three application methods

Potters are used to making dipping glazes that they weigh out and mix from recipes. Hobbyists commonly use bottled commercial brushing glazes. Did you know that a dipping glaze can be turned into a brushing glaze by the addition of Veegum (or Veegum CER) and water? Do you know what a base-coat dipping glaze is? Here is a quick overview: Dipping glazes need to go on to bisque ware evenly, be thixotropic enough to hold on at thickness and drain and dry quickly. But they don't need to dry hard. Brushing glazes need a cohesive slurry that dries slowly and hardens well on drying. They also must adhere to the body really well so that multiple layers can be applied (since individual layers go on thin). Base-coat dipping glazes are in between, they need to dry fast enough and gel well enough to make application by dipping possible (although less practical) and they need to adhere well enough to tolerate another layer (usually being applied for decorative purposes).

Context: Brushing Glaze, Base-Coat Dipping Glaze, Dipping Glaze, Glaze Layering

Monday 18th April 2022

Mug made from a cone 6 black-burning stoneware body

Black burning bodies are popular with many potters. They are normally manufactured by adding around 10% burnt or raw umber to an existing buff-burning cone 6 Cartoon Eyeshade Lovely Expression Style Eye Travel Home Use So. Umbers are powerful colorants, they have high iron and also contain manganese (the latter being the primary source of the color). But these clays can be troublesome. First, good kiln venting is needed to avoid breathing the manganese metal vapors for firings going past cone 6. Micro-bubble clouding/gloss-loss in the glazes and blistering/bloating of the bodies are common. But this mug fired perfectly. Why? The umber was added to a cone 10 stoneware instead (and it has fluxed the body to mature at cone 6). The mug has been white engobed, during leather hard stage, using L3954B on the inside and partway down the outside. After bisque it was clear glazed on the inside giving a flawless surface (using G2926B) and dipped in GA6-A Alberta Slip base amber-clear. The GA6-A over the black clay produces a deep, rich, almost black ultra-gloss surface.

Context: Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, L3954B, How to Liner-Glaze a Mug, Can you make a black-burning stoneware using black iron oxide?, Manganese Inorganic Compounds Toxicology, Manganese in Clay Bodies

Sunday 17th April 2022

Step 12: First fired bars at cone 4, 04 and the data I have entered for them

L4496, this clay, is the top two bars, fired at cone 4 and 04. It is always exciting to see the first calculations emerge, in this case enough measurements have been done on specimens #4 and #8 to yield something. The bottom bars are Plainsman L215 terra cotta. But Notice I have enough data entered for these cones that Insight-live can calculate Cold‑Resistant Weeding Control Cloth Gardening Weeding Cloth Deg and water absorption, and the numbers are surprising. Specimen #8 has a firing shrinkage of -0.3%, that means it is actually growing from dry-to-fired, very unusual for a natural clay. Notice also the absorption is only 3.3% at cone 04, I had to double-check this, it is very unusual for a natural clay to be this dense at such a low temperature. Even though the surface of the L215 bar on the bottom is much smoother and denser appearing it is actually much less dense (at 12% porosity). The cone 4 numbers are also interesting. The clay is melting at cone 5 (not shown) but the cone 4 bar is not WSM Standard Series Piston Kit 74.15mm Yamaha AR 230 HO [Boat] ( or bubbling and its firing shrinkage is low.

Context: Evaluating a native clay's suitability for pottery

Friday 15th April 2022

Step 17: Revisiting the test bars - The data

These screen fragment overlays are from the recipe panel at insight-live.com. The table of data shown here is from the SHAB test only. The row numbers are the specimen numbers of each bar. The first five columns are the data we collected by measuring the bars before and after firing (dry length, fired length, dry weight, fired weight). The last three red columns are the results of calculations it does on that data to produce values for drying shrinkage, New 36" 32 LED Amber White Traffic Advisor Stick Bar Emergency L and fired porosity. The graph above charts the firing shrinkage (ascending line) and absorption (descending line) against temperature. These two lines are like a "fired Exalt North Hat Small/Medium FlexSize Charcoal/Black New Paintba fingerprint". Finding meaning in this data enables characterizing the firing behavior of the clay. In the next step, we will compare it to a terra cotta clay body.

Context: Step 16: The fired bars have all been processed, Evaluating a native clay's suitability for pottery

Wednesday 13th April 2022

What to do when glazes drain and drip like this

These are the same glazes. The slurry of the one on the left had a specific gravity of 1.45, it was creamy and appeared to be good. However, when this bisque porcelain mug was pulled out after the dip it dried so fast that it would not even out around the lip (in spite of my efforts to roll it). To fix this I added water to increase the specific gravity to 1.43 (making it quite watery). Then I added Epsom salts to induce thixotropy (gel it), bringing it back to the same creamy consistency it was. This time it went on evenly and dried slowly enough that it evened out. Notice the darker color, is it still damp. Although the piece dries enough to handle in less than 30 seconds, it does take longer to dry completely because there is more water in the slurry.

Context: Thixotropy, Specific gravity

Tuesday 12th April 2022

Step 16: The fired bars have all been processed

These test bars are fired from cone 5 (top) down to cone 06 (bottom). We are processing hundreds of these bars are any given time, managing the simultaneous testing of dozens of body, glaze and engobe projects in our group account at insight-live.com. These took about a month to work their way through our system, all the measurement data has been entered (we will look at that in the next step). These bars show visually how this clay matures across a wide range of temperatures, from most-porous at the bottom to beginning-to-melt at the top. One thing is obvious: Most terra cottas shrink much more as they approach cone 2, commonly reaching 8%, then they begin to expand above that. This one is much more dimensionally stable, it is only shrinking about 3% at cone 2 (the #2 bar).

Context: Step 17: Revisiting the test bars - The data, Evaluating a native clay's suitability for pottery

Saturday 9th April 2022

A titanium/colorant addition to a cone 6 magnesia matte glaze

This is the G3939A recipe (a 90:10 mix of G2934 and G2926B), it normally produces a silky matte if not cooled too quickly. Shown on the left is our original addition of 8% Mason 6021 red stain and 4.5% titanium dioxide. This not only did not produce the desired marbled effect, it actually made it more glossy! A 1.5% titanium addition completely transforms it to what you see on the right. Rutile, as a source of TiO2, is often used for this, but it is high in iron and would completely muddy the red color. Pure titanium dioxide, by contrast, is iron free.

Context: A titanium/colorant addition to a cone 10 magnesia matte glaze

Thursday 7th April 2022

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What people have said about Digitalfire

  • When I first opened the program I thought I would never know how to use it and did not open it again until last week. I have been watching some of the tutorials and those made it very easy to understand and work with Insight. Also your website has been very helpful for a project I am currently working on (and in general the understanding of glazes). So thank you for all the information you have collected and made available.
  • Thank you for all the great work you have done and the tremendous contributions you have made to the ceramics community.
  • I enjoy using your software and website.
  • First of all I'd like to congratulate you for the incredible source of information and Guidelines in your website. We are changing our fast-firing process (cold to cold in 4.5 hours) to a slow-firing process (cold to cold in 24.0 hours) and all our glaze formulas have lost their acid resistant characteristic, after dipping in 24 hrs at Ph1.3.
  • Your web site is wonderful. You guys are my knight-in-shinning-armor to slay that dragon. Learned more about glaze chemistry on your web page than in a graduate program at RISD.
  • I think Glaze chemistry is an extremely under-appreciated and under-estimated field of science.
  • Your materials database has been the best source of information for me for a long time. Even most of the European frits are in there and this is not true for many books.

What people have said about Insight-Live

  • Thank you very much for your website, as a amateur Potter I find it an incredibly useful source of information about all kinds of things pottery related and when I'm trying to make glazes for example I will often refer to your website for guidance.
  • I simply want to let you know that the digitalfire reference library is a treasure. Every time I look it up I learn something new, and I have a hard time to tear myself away. I have a number of books on my shelf, but if I had to choose just one reference source, it would be digitalfire. There is an enormous amount of work behind all the entries in the library. For me, it has enriched my practice and helped me advance in a way that cannot be measured.
  • I think you have done a great job in developing the on-line version. It is very easy to use. We meet once a month to discuss any glaze problems, test glazes in teams, and I do a presentation on an aspect of glaze chemistry. One day, I said something technical and one of the member's jaw dropped and she said "Hey, I just realized I understood what you said". It was a proud moment.
  • On a small aside. I want to thank you for all the work you have done over the years, firstly to inspire people like myself to see the technical side of ceramics as such a beautiful side of the art and not just a finished result that was lucky. And on that note with how much I read your blog, waiting for daily posts, reading all the old articles again and again, I see your mugs with the wheat grass on them all time, and was wondering if you ever put them up for sale. It's been an icon of my learning and would love to have one of the infamous mugs themselves.
  • Let me begin by saying thank you! The resource you have provided is immensely valuable! Ive learned more from your website than I did during grad school.. jokes on me. Thank you for everything!
  • So many times each day… I am pointing myself to your work and website. Thank you for an amazing resource.
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