My quest for a cone six claybody that vitrifies and gives me both texture and color at this temperature necessitates mixing my own. I have not found any commercial clay that comes close. I love material and experimenting so I am constantly tweaking my claybody. However, as of the fall 2016, my current body recipe is the following.
Hawthorne Bond Fireclay 65 mesh 25
Cedar Heights Fireclay 20
Foundry Hill Creame 20
Potash Feldspar (Custer) 10
Silica 325 mesh 10
Local Clay (aka WildClay) 5
*You can sub Redart or Newman Red
Kyanite Fine 3
Grog Fine 2
I usually mix two 55 gallon drums approximately 500-600lbs per batch. I use a 60 year old Walker Mixer and allowed to sit for a week before I use.
I fire cone six reduction using a heavily-toothed mutt stoneware that usually has some amount of locally dug red clay. I have two pottery wheels. My main body of work is thrown on “Big Bertha”, my old pink kick wheel that I bought while still in undergraduate school. It has been rebuilt and modified to fit me over the years but the bearings, shaft and wheel head are from the early 70’s. I throw bigger work on a Brent B. I bisque fire in one of two electric kilns, one computerized and the other manual. As of Fall 2016 I am still building a larger downdraft gas kiln–as money allows for materials–but all of my work is fired in an
My current kiln is 12 cubic ft and has been updated and repaired in 2016. All interior walls are coated in a refractory coating I’ve been experimenting with for years. It has four 6″ homemade venturi burners, see kiln chronicles, with a oriface size of 1/32″. I fire using propane and since switching to cone six I am able to get three firings out of a 100 lb tank. My firings are approximately 4-6 hours long.
My glaze decoration started near the end of undergrad when at that point I was firing with salt/soda and wood. I knew that building an atmospheric kiln straight out of school was going to be nearly impossible so these stoney glazed “panels” came to be.
I’ve formulated the decoration glaze down from a Randy Johnston glaze I used while at Haystack called ABT. It looks fantastic in cone ten reduction and wood but was for too dry for cone six. Through a lot of testing came the glaze I use now called Matt’s Matte. In order to be as efficient as possible I “pre-load” my gas kiln by placing work on an outlined kiln shelf on my glazeroom floor. Every pot is dipped in the decoration glaze then subsequently decorated, then waxed. The wax is generally allowed to
dry over night then the top coat is applied. The type of top coat is determined by which shelf the pot will be fired on–being an updraft my kiln varies in temperature from top to bottom sometimes by a cone or two.
Philosophy on Recipes:
I believe in and teach my students the Potter’s Code. As ceramic artists we have enough trouble mastering our craft without help from peers. It’s not the glaze, claybody, or technique that makes the pot but the potter. All I ask is you give props to whom you got your tricks from and pass it forward.
Cone Six Glazes:
Butt-Rub Ash (named after a BBQ joint I used to get the ash from)
Wood Ash (unwashed) 25
Nepheline Syenite 25
Ball Clay 25
Otto’s Amber Revisited
Ball Clay 6
Zinc Oxide 5
Spanish Red Iron Ox. 12
Custer Feldspar 45
Spanish Red Iron Ox. 2
Custer Feldspar 55
Nepheline Syenite 50
Ball Clay 10
Soda Ash 10