Sign up for your FREE subscription to the Ceramic Arts Daily Newsletter and we will give you How To Use Clay Pencils, Slip Trailers, Glaze Pens, and Carving Tools to Decorate Ceramics Free!

Ceramics Monthly Master Class

Welcome to Ceramics Monthly's Master Class. These articles contain advanced technical and critical content from the pages of Ceramics Monthly magazine. Topics can range from glaze formulation and chemistry to kiln construction and firing techniques to aesthetic criticism, and all come from the top experts in the field. We hope this archive will be helpful and valuable to you, both in the studio as well as the classroom. To get great, new content like this delivered right to your door, subscribe to Ceramics Monthly today. Do you have a topic idea for a Master Class article? Send a letter to the editor.


Click to see larger image

French Fried Pots

Posted On November 17, 2009 0 Comments

Initially, I placed a 30-gallon plastic barrel outside one such diner that had agreed to save the used oil for me. My plan was to swap out the barrel every five weeks (the owner predicted it would take that long to fill the barrel) and replace it with an empty 30-gallon barrel. I learned two facts immediately: First, I couldn’t lift the full barrel of oil onto the back of my pick-up truck. Secondly, used, hot oil will melt plastic barrels.

Latex resist was painted on the lip and underside of this porcelain vessel and 10% potassium dichromate was painted on the entire bowl. The latex was then removed and the following WSMS solutions were dotted and brushed on: 15% cobalt chloride, 50% cobalt chloride, 25% iron chloride, 50% nickel chloride and an "all gray" solution (10 grams each of potassium permangantate, cobalt chloride, molybdic acid and iron chloride in 100cc water).

Salts of the Earth

Posted On November 17, 2009 9 Comments

Beautiful, soft, muted-color brushstrokes and washes of water-soluble metal salts decorate Gary Holt’s translucent porcelain bowls and plates. The simplicity and quiet presence of his works belie the years that Holt spent experimenting and perfecting his technique. Using water-soluble metals salts (WSMS) demands excellent technical skills and careful attention to details.

bariumville-1

Leaving Bariumville: Replacing Barium Carbonate in Cone 10 Glazes

Posted On November 17, 2009 5 Comments

Barium carbonate has long been used as an ingredient in high-fire glazes, sometimes conferring unique properties upon glazes. One of the alkaline earth carbonates, it has also been used as rat poison (large doses can be toxic to humans as well). Glazes containing it ought to be checked for barium leaching if they are intended to hold food or drink, or reserved for surfaces that do not come into contact with food. It is not my intent to present the research on barium toxicity here, but to present a course of action for replacing it in glazes.

figure_5

The Many Faces of Iron: An Exploration in Cooling

Posted On November 16, 2009 4 Comments

One of the more fascinating, sometimes frustrating parts of ceramics is learning to balance the innumerable factors that affect the outcome of a firing. Glaze ingredients, the clay body used, firing cycles, atmospheres, kiln-stacking techniques and geography (to name a few variables) can all affect firing results.

gloss-blue-glaze by Jeff Zamek

Glazes: Materials, Mixing, Testing, Firing

Posted On November 5, 2009 4 Comments

How many times have you copied a glaze formula, only to find that it didn’t work as expected? It is not unheard of for glazes with the same formula to produce different results. While this may seem like a dead end, it does not have to be.

After an object is scanned from various angles, a three-dimensional digital model is made of all the scans and all of the points on the surface are mapped. The file can be altered or combined with other files before outputting to either a milling machine or a three-dimensional printer.

Combining Histories: Make, Scan, Mill, Print, Adjust, Repeat

Posted On October 21, 2009 2 Comments

For the past few years we have utilized several forms of rapid prototyping to explore new methods of creating form. At The Ohio State University ceramics program, we have a large Techno Isel CNC (computer numerically controlled) router and a Konica Minolta Vivid 910 3D scanner, a Z-Corp 510 3D printer and a soon-to-be-operational Epilog laser cutter. In an environment where research and development are crucial activities, we willingly embrace these new technologies in search of a balance between traditional craft and industrial practice.

Don't let this happen to you! This lovely surface was ruined by a flake of kiln wash.

The Many Layers of Kiln Wash: How to Find the Best Kiln Wash for Your Firing Temperature and Methods

Posted On September 28, 2009 15 Comments

In this post, John Britt explains that giving a bit more consideration to kiln wash might help potters avoid some of the common kiln wash headaches – like scraping cracked kiln wash off shelves or lamenting an otherwise perfect piece that was ruined by a flake of kiln wash. Plus he shares some kiln wash recipes for various firing techniques.

perfection1

Striving for Perfection: Energy Efficiency and Combustion

Posted On May 20, 2009 0 Comments

To achieve complete combustion, the exact proportions of fuel and oxygen are required with nothing remaining. In a gas kiln firing this is often difficult to attain because of the many variables in fuel and oxygen (which is derived from the air) and the equipment used to mix the two.

Panama Red Glaze, Cone 6 reduction

Mid-Range Reduction Firing: It’s Not Just Cooler, It’s Cool!

Posted On May 13, 2009 19 Comments

As John Britt points out in today’s post, firing to cone 6 reduction is cheaper, faster, and the results can be almost indistinguishable from high fire.

Using Studio Space to Increase Profits

Posted On February 18, 2009 1 Comment

The old adage that time equals money is especially true in any labor-intensive activity. Making pottery is certainly an endeavor that requires direct labor to produce pottery for sale. Handmade pottery by definition requires physical attention from the potter during many stages of the operation.