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Cone 6 Electric Kiln Glaze Firings: An Introduction

Hello, I'm Marsha from Marsha Neal Studio. I am going to be contributing monthly to the Beads-of-Clay Blog about using and experimenting with Cone 6 commercial glazes. You can make your own glazes, but I have chosen to use my limited studio space for things other than for dry materials storage. Besides the mess and health issues associated with working with such small dust particles in my home studio, it's not what I want to spend my time on at this point in my life. One day I will probably get back to making my own once I have a studio separate from the house, but just not now...

Ok, so here is my intro, based on what I have figured out while working and experimenting with clay and glazes over the last 13 years...




There are lots of beautiful glaze colors, textures, and finishes available commercially which are created and tested by artists and chemists working for these commercial glaze companies. The glazes can be pretty consistant after figuring out how they work with your clay body and kilns. They usually are available wet or dry, and can be combined for a multitude of effects. Check with your local clay distributor to see what they have in stock to help save on shipping costs...





Here is what my glaze table (my North Star Slab Roller) looks like when I am getting ready to glaze a batch of pendants, beads, buttons, or cabochons.




These are some Cone 6 Georgies Interactive Pigments I picked up at NCECA this year...











Various Amaco free samples (free from NCECA)...





And a couple of tiny bottles of new Spectrum glazes too...





I happily add these to my already being used glaze palette, which also includes some Laguna Cone 6 glazes.
I can't wait to start to combine these to see how they react on my textured porcelain pieces and to start to share the results here...





So here are some things I keep on hand, just incase the glaze needs a little working before it is ready for use. A brushing agent for if a glaze does not want to brush on nice and a glaze suspender for when the heavier particles fall out of suspension too fast. Read the directions on these - very important! Some of the reactive type glazes can change when you add the brushing medium. I suggest doing tests first.





Also a gallon (any brand) of distilled water is a must because it is pure from impurities. Tap or well water is not and can add extra unwanted chemicals to the glaze.





I prefer to brush my pieces and this is a normal setup for me.





I find that using this Kemper tool (anything with a long skinny end really), I can get away from coming in contact with the wet glaze. Not that the glazes I use are hazardous, but they all do contain materials that can be absorbed by your body in some manner. Every commercial glaze should have a label on it saying if any of the materials it contains is food safe, non-toxic, contains chemicals know to cause cancer, etc... Read the bottles!!! Know what you are working with, and work smart (gloves, dust masks, goggles, and so on)...





Once dry, I can pick up the piece and glaze the backs of the pendants. I personally appreciate the smoothness of the fired glazed surface against a shirt or skin.

And my clay sink: here the particles drop to the bottom as they settle, leaving clear water at the top which can overflow into the drain. The water can be removed periodically then the sludge dried and removed to be disposed of properly or reused if possible. I just used PVC that fit the interior diameter of the sink and put some caulk around it.


I keep my cone 6 glaze dried sludge water separate as to save it for a friend that reuses it as a liner glaze on non-food items... Reuse if you can!





And here is what I eventually end up with, ready to go into a kiln for firing: a tray full of pieces, sorted by shape and size to fit the most into each firing. Don't forget to clean out the holes to remove excess glaze. If not, you will end up with a bunch of pieces fused to the wire hooks and rods!





Here is my baby doll or test kiln, some small cones, some wire hooks I have made out of Kemper High Temp Wire and Kanthal wire rods that come with the Roselli bead trees. See those two dark things in the kiln? My bead trees after years of Cone 6 firings.





Here are two of my three kilns. I only fire one at a time and unplug the ones not in use.

And here are some examples of how I glaze fire my beads, suspended on rods...

Longer pieces are put on hooks and are suspended on bead tree rods...

This is after the glaze firing. Looks a lot different doesn't it?

There are new bead kiln furniture being made and sold through our very own Marla via her business: Bisque Bead Supply that go up to Cone 6 as well. I can't wait to get my hands on some to test them out!




I am excited to start on the glaze testing and will post next month (May 21, 2010) with the setup of how I test my glazes and hopefully some results... Then more to come in the months to follow.

If you happen to purchase anything through any of these links, would you do us here at Beads-of-Clay a favor? Let them know that you found them through the Beads-of-Clay Blog...
It would be much appreciated!

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section, and we will try to address them as best as possible.

Thanks for stopping by!

10 comments:

  1. What a wonderful step by step tour through the glazing process with such great pics. Thanks so much for sharing all this with us and with more to come next month.

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  2. That was a fabulous post. I got some new tips from it and love to watch the process that another artist uses. Thanks for sharing all of that information!

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  3. Great post, Marsha! I just went shopping :-)

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  4. Love the post Marsha, I too like to watch how others do things in their studio. I love a lot of the glaze links you put here. Keep it up! and thank you for finding the time to share with us, we know how life can be busy with two little ones.

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  5. thanks for the step by step guide..
    i'm new to bead making and i like seeing the kiln/firing set up.

    i have used moroccan sands ^5-6
    from laguna? on vases with nice results.

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  6. This was FASCINATING! I have long been an admirer and collector of ceramics but really didn't know what goes into making them. This was very informative.

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  7. This is a great post. Very informative.
    Nicole/Beadwright

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  8. This is great and thanks for sharing your tips on hanging the beads. That is a neat way to do that.

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  9. Thanks for the comments! The painter in me really enjoys taking the time to sit and glaze each piece... And being able to share what I have learned makes me feel like I'm teaching again... I hope that the upcoming posts will open up some new doors for myself creatively, and will ignite a new starting place for everyone else to get excited too!

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  10. I agree ... GREAT post. I have recently been playing with beads of clay with some of my young friends and they are loving it! As well am I. Their imaginations just soar and I am loving some of their crations. Thank you for the tips and will be watching for more ... :o)

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