Welcome to my blog. I will attempt to make it much more than just a pitiful list of the relentlessly mundane minutiae of my daily existence but if you feel that I have failed try to imagine all the stuff that I haven't posted.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Building upper body strength

As the rain seemed to have stopped for a while I made the most of being able to work outside preparing wood (splitting by hand as my wood splitter has frustratingly burnt out its electrics) and rocks for my next batches of glazes.
The kiln was lit for a slow bisque. Muscles tensed, I approached the steel mortar and pestle with buckets of calcined rock.
I break up the rocks into manageable sizes with a hammer before calcining them in my gas test kiln. Then, using this mortar and a 1 1/2 inch diameter steel pestle, I crush them down to 8 mesh (around 2.5mm max diameter).
Calcining works best on igneous rocks with large crystals like Dartmoor granite. Unfortunately for my arms I had fine rocks such as Arthurs Seat basalt from Edinburgh.....
.... a triassic sandstone from Martley in Worcestershire, Pentland felsite and a metamorphosed granite from the Malverns that has separated into  thick swirls of quartz, feldspar and mica.
This  collection of buckets took me 4 hours and is now ready for the ball mill.

3 hours of milling and the grit is reduced to a fine dust that will readily pass through a 60 mesh seive, with about 90% through 100 mesh. I used to mill finer but find that  this slightly coarser grade gives good results.
The red lidded jar is 2/3 full of hard alumina balls, which tumble as they rotate, crushing the rock. I am milling most of the rocks dry....
...though I mill quartz wet for the best results, and to keep the dust down as I need this very fine. Here it is settling out (which takes about 24 hours) before it can be slopped onto a plaster batt to dry.

 For some reason I am unable to reply to comments on my post so......
Hi William. Don't mind at all. You can certainly use it to make a glaze. Try using it to replace the feldpar in one of your usual glazes or do a lineblend adding whiting and some clay. Good luck!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Hope I screwed the corrugated iron down well......

....the kiln is lit for another very slow bisque firing and the shelter I have built around it is rattling in these violent winds. I'm relieved  slightly by my choice in extra long hex head screws when I built it + by the fact that all the burners have flame failure devices on them.                                                                      

The last of the clays that I have made up have been used. This image shows a kaolin and ground quartz body from Dartmoor materials. It is the largest piece I have made from this body, being 38cm tall, but had to be made in 5 sections as the clay is so difficult to use.
Now all that is left is to make the setters and lots of testing.
The first set of tests, pictured here, are more lineblends of Malvern rocks. I'm still trying to get a good glaze out of the Precambrian diorite, which seems to me to be closer to a dolorite in its lack of silica. I'm blending a Triassic sandstone into the glazes to try and get a good melt.
Other tests include lineblends of materials from the Gog Magogs near where I live. The rocks and silts are glacial deposits + I am trying to get a beautiful glaze out of them for a commission. So far it is proving elusive, but if there's one thing a potter needs it's optimism!