Panopoly Creations

New Clay Woes

Firstly, I’ve added those blue beads and the red ceramic ring prototype to my Etsy shop.

Meanwhile I think I’ve finally discovered the solution to a problem I’ve been having for a while. It’s been really difficult for me to get my beads glazed thickly enough. I originally painted on my glaze, which is apparently the “normal” way bead makers do it, to keep the glaze from getting in the bead holes…but it was really hard to figure out how many coats were enough (my glaze manufacturer said “two to three coats,” which was clearly too low), plus because my beads are pretty small I was still getting glaze in the holes…plus, between you and me, it felt like I was often removing just as much glaze as I was putting on with each additional coat.

So I came up with two solutions: the first one is the one I’m trying now, which is to hold the beads between my fingers, covering the bead holes, and physically dip them into the glaze. This is kinda messy, and I then have to do touch-ups to the area my fingers covered. I’ve only done one test fire of beads glazed this way, and the results were kind of disappointing. The beads tended to me more glazed on one side than the other, and many of them were still not glazed thickly enough. So I’ve done another test batch that will hopefully fix both problems. I have yet to test my second solution, which is to fill the bead holes with wax resist and dip them entirely into the glaze.

But I think there might be another factor entirely that’s contributing to my glazing woes, which is the bisque temperature.

A few months ago I starting using a new kind of clay that I haven’t been terribly happy with. It’s called B-Mix with Sand, and I think it’s by Laguna Clays. There’s probably nothing wrong with it for other uses, but for me…well. I suppose the problem was that I told the lady at the store that I handbuild, as opposed to working on a wheel. Which is true. However, it automatically led her to believe that I needed clay with lots of grog, which is (basically) sand, because my work needed more support. This is not true, because of the scale of what I generally build, and how I build it. As it is the gros makes it a bit harder to get nice smooth beads.

Wth the new clay also, apparently, came a new firing range. I usually bisque (this is the first fire, before the glaze is applied) at cone 06. But if you bisque your ware at too high a temperature, it will make it much more difficult to get enough glaze to absorb/stick to it. (If you bisque it too low, it can absorb too much glaze and become brittle.) So next time I’m going to try bisquing at cone 07, and see if that helps.

And I’m probably going to switch to another clay when this runs out, too.

Also, entirely unrelated, but: Did you know that my Etsy shop (and every other Etsy shop) has an RSS feed? Well, I didn’t until a couple days ago! Nifty!