Thursday, June 14, 2012


I haven't posted in a while, and for a couple of reasons.

1. I've been swamped with school work in my final term at EOU trying to grind out my BS in Accounting.

B. I've been with out a kiln for a couple of months now since my switch burned out.

and 3 I've had a hell of a time with my kilns lately in general, I pulled a second kiln I'd been storing into action and it's switch burned out as well. Not to mention the whole exploding relay incident where I connected a control box and solid state relay improperly making a bomb out of my new digital kiln controller. Fun times!

Well the good news is I've had excellent luck with the glaze recipes from Ron Roy's book Mastering Cone 6 glazes. Already got a few of them through the kilns before the a fore mentioned incidents and they worked exactly like they did in the book. Can't recommend enough Ron Roy's book, it's changed the way I feel about electric cone 6 firing. I'd been looking forward to building a reduction salt kiln for about two years now, and it all the sudden dawned on me that if I started doing once fire salt again, I'd miss the great glazes I have now. Wow, I can't believe I actually like electric firing, who'd have thunk it. Thanks Ron Roy and John Hesselberth for your outstanding contributions to the world of ceramics.

If you have an electric kiln and you don't own this book, I urge you to buy it. Probably the best 50 bucks I spent last year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Matte Black

Well I took a gamble on the matte black in the Electric Kiln Ceramics book. I got a few pots in the little kiln, two decent sized vases and an oval serving dish. The big deal for me is that I'm not liking the cone 6 firings. I should say the 818P isn't liking the cone 6. The envirovent slows down the cone 6 firings to a two day process no matter what I do. My only recourse is to fire with out the envirovent on. This time I tired to do that, but the red earthenware was gassing off so badly I couldn't see my witness cones. I decided to just pop it on for a second to clear it just to check the cones. I cleaned out the atmosphere at the end real well for a soak of 50 minutes. It was really a slow cool though as the kiln began to cool off slowly with the dials set to low. Can't wait to see if I've got a glaze that I like. I'm kicking myself for not putting at least one of the iron red samples in this load. Oh well, next time.

Monday, December 19, 2011


I've not had much to say this fall because I've not been able to work in the studio much at all. I'm finally on Christmas break from EOU and I'm back on the horse. Threw a few mugs today and have resolved to design a new mug form since I'm not impressed with anything I've made today. I pulled out the sodium silicate to make some crackle slip mugs. I did a few and had some fun, but I my slip was a bit thin so I couldn't get a nice brush mark out of my coarse hair brushes. The crackle is only slightly interesting and isn't at all what I was looking for. I resigned to make one more mug with just brush marks and no crackle. Tomorrow I'll make and assemble a mug. I'll post a picture if something of note comes from my effort.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It seems I'm always doing research. I've been reading a lot about matte glazes, in trying to get something in a cone 6 matte. I've run into a clay club blog with some good glazes on it. It's amazing how you know when you find good websites or blogs, and then you run across them referenced on other websites and blogs. In this spirit here are some links I find fascinating.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


You can now see on the right side of my blog a gallery listing from my Etsy store where my pots can be viewed and purchased. If you would like more information, or to put in a special order request please email me at and put "BenCo pottery questions "BenCo pottery special order" in the subject field.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Glaze Research

Digital Fire has a lot of free links that hold a wealth of information. You can find chemical data on nearly all individual materials, as well as a number of formulated glaze recipes. What I've been working on the last week is trying to figure out proper formulations for durable matte glazes in both Cone 1 and Cone 6. I have found a myriad of recipes for high gerstley borate matte glazes. Which I know from first hand experience from testing in college that these glazes are not durable and they leach. So I'm trying to come up with a formula made from the materials I have on hand that make a matte glaze. The good news is I've found shiny base glazes for both the cone 1 and the cone 6. I've also found some proven cone 1 and cone 6 macro crystalline glazes. I have a lot of testing to do now that I've done some research. However for anyone who might be interested in these types of glazes here are some links to digital fire that might help.

All three of these links are great. The last one is of particular interest because I have an ash deposit that contains a known material cataloged by a geologist with the USGS.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Good in Bad

You know how they say things happen for a reason. Well this recent firing made me read up on a lot of stuff I'd already learned but had maybe not remembered lately. It also made me do a bit more digging to find some things I did not know.

For some time now I've been interested in doing crystalline glazing in my studio. In fact it was Wally Schwab who first introduced me to crystalline glazes when I studied under him at PCC Rock Creek. I'd also done quite a lot of research into microcrystalline glazes at MHCC with Don Sprague. Since then some advances have been made by other potters to fire these glazes at cone 6. When I looked at these before I'd found a cone 1 crystalline glaze as well, but had lost the recipe. Well I found it yesterday, so I'll be tinkering with that one soon thanks to Charlie Cummings post on Clay Art Thread. I also did some research into the firing schedules and found out that the crystallization is happening upon cooling, but a very slow cooling where the kiln is held at the 1830 - 1900 degree mark for four hours. What's interesting is this is when the iron in cone 5 iron reds is held to facilitate crystallization as well.

As you may know there is a huge difference between Orton cones. The large ones drop much faster than the small ones, in fact a large cone 6 drops at 2228 where a small doesn't drop until 2291. Sixty three degrees doesn't seem like a lot when you're talking about thousands of degrees, but it's enough that it could make a glaze go from stable to runny. It's not just the temperature but also the time it takes to get to the higher temperature.

Charlie Cummings
Macrocrystalline Cone 1
Frit 3110 - 43
Zinc Oxide - 23
Silica - 16
Lithium - 9
Laguna Borate - 9