Saturday, October 15, 2011

Glaze Glaze Calc Calc and Ceramic Materials, Too!

One of my most favorite things about ceramics as an art form and academic field is that it challenges your left and right brain - what do you want to do today? Geek out with molecular weight formulas or construct a ceramic cake? Ceramics is whatever it needs to be for an individual.
I decided that I want to develop clays and glazes for a cone 2 firing. I feel that this temperature is still low enough to get sharp colors, and be more economic and energy efficient than a cone 6 or high fire temperatures when I have to set up my own studio.

I have always struggled with the "flatness" of low fire ceramics and surfaces just seem to have more pizazz over 2000 degrees.

Clay Bodies
I started looking at a bunch of clay recipes and am working on altering some for cone 2 and developing a few from scratch. I want the body to fairly un-absorbant so glazes will fit correctly for food safe surfaces - but plastic and able to be used for sculptures with the addition of some filler (paper? nylon?) I am also aiming for a fairly white body that can be altered if need be. Last semester the addition of Black Iron Oxide (I think 5%) gave me the most amazing red from a white body base.

Other People's Glazes
We've been mixing and testing existing glazes to get familiar with the glaze materials at different temperatures, clays, and atmospheres.

Some of my favorite are a lithium glaze with wood ash and a bunny of a glaze containing fibrous wollastonite!

There is also a really lovely cone 1 majolica glaze, I think from Charlie Cummings, that is nice and fat and opaque with no crazing!

The Triaxial Blend
As much as I wanted to pull every little known ingredient from the shelves and make a soup, I contented myself with finding the love in the ordinary. I have a few potential bases from the a triaxial of Ferro Frit 3124, Laguna Borate, and Kaolin.

Even the best of the combinations wind up crazing after a couple of days - I really have to work on my clay body... From what I remember of developing low fire glazes, I think an addition of Ferro Frit 3134 will also help with the crazing.

Clay Reworking Based on Triaxial
I am reworking my clay recipe to include a higher percentage of Silica, and an addition of Talc. Hopefully that will take care of the crazing. I looked into adding cellulose insulation to my clay with the idea that I can make one clay body that is good for functional work and with the addition of cellulose insulation, have the same clay work well for sculpture. I fully realize that this will probably never happen, but I should find some nice clay bodies along the way!

In the meantime, since I have to make a fair bit of work for December, I'm using Standard Ceramics Low fire White Clay with No Grog and Texas Talc - #105.

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