StripAll Antique Sales & Refinishing
RR#1 Long Sault Ontario, K0C 1P0 Canada
1-613-534-8494 or email StripAll Antique Sales & Refinishing

Pottery & Ceramics F.A.Q.

1.   What can I do to prevent my old ceramic pieces from scratching my table top?
The easiest way is to use a stiltstone on the bottom of the piece. Rub the stiltstone on the bottom untill surface is smooth.

2.   I have this really old ceramic planter, that leaks just enough to be a nuissance. Do you know why it leaks and can I stop it from leaking ?
If you have a favourite old or new piece and it leaks ! its because its old and over the years shrinking and expanding with the weather variance creates spider web like cracks, that will create leaking, if its a new piece it could be a simple flaw or dust particle that was not cleaned properly before glazing. The way to seal either of these leaks is very easy. First take a dry rag and thoroughly clean the inside, do not use water, the pot must be dry this is very important or the process will not work. Second fill the pot to about 1/2 inch from the top with homogenize milk only. Then cover the top with saran wrap and leave sit for 5 to 7 days depending on how bad the leaks are. Put it out of the way because you dont want any accidental spills. Leave it at room temperature for the duration. When the time is up poor out the sour milk, rinse the pot with cold water only, do not use hot water or wipe it with a rag. Rinse with cold water only and let dry on its own. Dont be afraid to use it, if leaks is there repeat process.

3.   How can I prevent craters from forming on my glazed ceramics
A couple of reasons first:
After the piece has been fired once to bisque make absolutely sure ! that the piece has no white dust inside and outside, or the glaze will not stickit will create your famous craters and will leak in these spots. Second reason is after the piece has been fired once to bisque, make sure when you refire it with glaze to put your piece on the same shelf in the kiln as your first firing. There is more heat at the top of the kiln than at the bottom and a different temperature on the second fire will create problems and craters.
Stick to the same shelf !!

4.   How can I stop my greenware from warping, specially my plates.
Dry your greenware on a sheet of glass at least 1/4 " in thickness. This allows the greenware to dry without warping. Never use bare wood to dry your greenware it will warp every time.

5.   Can I repair a small break in my ceramic piece ?
If you can save the broken piece and make it fit exactly back to its original fit, crazy glue will work, sometimes it takes a couple of attempts. Do not be araid to apply lots of crary glue, rember your ceramic inside is very porous.

6.   I have my own kiln at home and the last two times I fired too bisque im getting runs in my glaze, any ideas ?
You probably have a open heating element { BROKEN}, fire your kiln on high for one hour empty. Turn the lights out, you are now in darkness. Take a heat glove and open the top of your kiln and look in, you will see without a doubt if there is an broken element or not. The broken will not be bright red like the good elements.

7.   How do I check too make sure that the piece of greenware that I coloured with underglazed and fired with the colour on to a bisque and is evenly coloured ?
Go to your sink, turn on the water and run it over the piece of bisque after its been cooled down. It will tell you if your colours have been applied evenly and rectification can be made before appling your glaze. Let it dry and apply two more coats of the same colour. Fire it again you should end up with a clean, full solid colour then you can apply you final glaze.

8.   How safe is it to experiment with different firings in my kiln can I hurt my kiln ?
Do not be afraid to experiment with your firings you cant hurt your kiln unless you exceed its maximum temperature, or the melting temperature of the metals being fired, so that they melt into your kiln and make a real mess.

9.   Can I fire glass in my enameling kiln ?
Yes you can, as is more succesfull in kilns with stepless control. Make sure you thoroughly kiln wash the kiln, in case glas explodes. If you lay the panel on a shelf, you should coat the shelf with kiln wash and then glass seperator. The temperature required is usually 50 degrees below that for a piece of similar thickness in a mould due to more even heating. By venting the door slightly to control heat rise, it is important to know the exact temperature in firing glass. A pyrometer is recommended.

10.   I`ve had my kiln for several years and over the years have acumulated some large and small chips in the fire bricks. Do I have to replace all the bricks or can I leave it alone?
The reason for even surfaces in the kiln is for even heat reflection, for even cooking. So yes you want to repair small or larges chips and cracks. Fire bricks can be repaired by filling in the holes and cracks with repair cement and trowelling smooth. If the hole is to big, cut out a square section of the damaged brick with a hacksaw blade. The dimensions are traced on the new fire brick. Cut that piece and replace in empty hole, it is sanded to an exact fit. Apply repair cement to all repaired areas that are to be cemented together and the piece is quickly pressed into placed. The excess cement is scrapped away after the joint has dried the edges are sanded away. The inside of the kiln should be vacuumed to get all the fine dust before its used again.

11.   Do you have any good tips on preparing enamels for metals?
You must prepare enamels before use for best results. There are two basic types of enamels opaque enamels and transparent enamels. You must wash the enamel before use, by placing enamels in a jar and covering the top of the enamel with 2-3 inches of water, then give it a good stir. Allow the enamel to settle to the bottom, wait five minutes and pour out the water and impurities. Only wash opaque enamels twice, but wash the transparent enamels 3-4 times. Placing the enamels on aluminum foil in the oven at 250 degrees will dry them, occasionally stir with a stainless steel or glass utensil. Make sure your enamel is completly dry before you store it for later use.

12.   Can I create a variety of textures ?
By all means be creative, for variety and texture, many materials are fired on to the enamels. Here are some examples, enamel threads, silver & copper wire, pieces of copper screen, enamel lumps and chips,bits of stained glass, woven glass cloth and threads, coarse frit, clean sand, real milk paint pigments, seed pearls, tiny glass buttons, beads and balls, be creative and have fun.

13.   Is there any special ways to put your copper pieces in the kiln for firing ?
Most definetly ! To fire, lay the copper shape on a enameling rack if the part which touches the edge only. A stilt is also a good idea for firing bowls and items with a plain bottom, but enameled sides that might run. An enameling fork should be used to place the rack into the kiln.

14.   What tempareture should I fire enameled copper ?
For most copper enameling, all kilns should be heated at about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit.

15.   How long should I fire enameled copper ?
Firing should take about three minutes and requires undivided attention. Make sure not to overfire, check through peephole every 15 seconds. The rack should be removed when the copper piece appears a rosy red and the enamel is smooth. The rack should be placed on a asbestos pad and allowed to be cooled completely. An asbestos glove or kitchen glove should be worn when you check the peep hole or open the kiln.

16.   How do I know when to counter enamel on the back or reverse sides of my enameled copper pieces ?
Mostly all enameled copper pieces should be counter enameled on the back or reverse side. This will avoid lots of cleaning of fire scale. And it helps to control the chipping and cracking which is caused by expanding from the cooking and then the contracting from the cooling.It is not neccessary to counter enamel concave surfaces but should be done on convex surfaces and flat pieces. Counter or backing enamel will produce a matted affect, regular enamel may be used.

17.   Is there a special way to apply enamel to copper pieces ?
There are two basic techniques, the first is Sifting or Dusting technique.To sift on enamels the dry powder is put in a glass jar with 100 mesh screen or double layer of nylon stocking, held on with a rubber band. Now spray or dust the copper shape with gum, either a purchased gum preparation or your home made gum solution. Then sift a coat of 1/32 of a inch in thickness on to the copper. If the coat is to thin you can always add another coat after firing. The enamel must be completely dry before refiring. Too thick of a coat will produce cracking and bubbling. Inlaid or Spatula techniqueThis is used for small areas with a number of different colours. Using a weak solution of gum, dampen the enamel to the saturation level and keep this moisture level while applying the enamels. Use a spatula to apply the enamels and use a spreader to spread them out. The spatula blade can be used to make the lines of contact. The coat should be 1/32 inch thick. To keep the grains of enamel in place spray with a gum solution. Allow enamels to dry completely before refiring.

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