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Troubleshooting Cystal Glazes

When anyone is doing pottery or ceramics and they are introduced to crystal glazes they right away want to make something and put that kind of a glaze on it.
Granted, it is a beautiful glaze and when I first saw it, I had to make a piece of pottery with that glaze on it too.
As usual, my attitude was, piece of cake, I can do that!!!
And as usual, I didn't read the directions and guess what?
Yup, like the old saying, if at first you don't succeed, go get the directions out of the garbage can, which is exactly what I had to do!!!
Through the years I have gathered up a few tips and have listed them below for you.

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All About Pottery Glazes

Common Glaze Terms
Toxic Ingredients used in Glazes
Alternative Glaze Materials
Troubleshooting Glaze Cracking
Glazing Defect and Remedies
Glaze Dipping
High Bisque Low Glaze
Making a Hydrometer
What is an Overglaze
Lead Testing an Overglaze
Refinishing Bought Pottery
Surface Tension and Glazing
Salt Firing Glaze
Choosing Your Colors
Firing Copper Matte
Glaze Recipes
Crystals in the Glaze
Crystalite Glazes
Crystalline Glazes
Crystal Glazes
Earthenware Glazes
Troubleshooting Crystal Glazes
Oil Spot Glaze
Mojolica Method
Raw Glazing Pottery
Red, Yellow and Orange Glazes
Making Test Tiles for Glazes
Shino Glaze
Glaze Settling
Clear Dipping Glaze
Using a Viscosity Cup

No Crystals

If you aren't getting any crystals, it could be that you need new elements for your kiln. If it takes your kiln longer than an hour to go the last 212° F, you need to get new elements for sure!
This is very important fix if you want to fire crystal glazes.
Crystalline glazes are very alkaline and leach alumina, among other things from the clay.
The longer the glaze has to leach alumina, the stiffer the melt will be and the more impossible it will be for crystals to grow, remember, they have to grow in a flowing liquid.

Element will usually last about 30 firings before they need to be changed.
Now, the elements are still quite good for firing other things like high-alumina glazes that don't need a soak time.
This means that if you're going to do crystalline glazes exclusively, you're going to be changing elements pretty often.
If you're still not growing crystals and your elements are changed, the next thing to check is how long are you soaking at the correct temperatures?
If you are going to be doing a lot of crystal glaze firing, it would be well worth investing in a pyromerter.
If you do have a pyrometer, I want you to know that they lose calibration and sometimes don't even have it to begin with.
I grew crystals for years with a pyrometer that read only 90% of the actual temperature.
It is amazing that I got any results at all.
Look in your local phone directory or on the web for calibration services and have your pyrometer tested.
Also, if your pyrometer is older than five years it's probably a good idea to have it recalibrated just as part of your routine maintenance.

Not Enough Glaze

Crystal Glaze Trouble 1

Does your stuff look like this?
This is the second most common problem and I sometimes make this mistake myself.
Crystalline glazes must be applied very thick.
Really, really thick.
Not quite as thick as ash glazes, but thicker than any other glaze you'll use.
The top of a bottle, jar or the rim of a bowl, can stand a layer 2 mm thick.
Hard to believe, huh?
Remember to put a little less glaze near the bottoms of your pottery, because this glaze will run.


Cone 10 is way up there, and it's a killer on elements.
Even Cone 8 is higher than most people like to go.
A lot of folks figure, well, the formula says Cone 8, but I can probably squeak by with Cone 6.
Then, look below and see what they get!

Crystal Glaze Trouble 2

White, sugary areas on a crystalline glaze are a good example of underfiring.
You want to get the glaze completely melted and fluid.
Unmelted bits will act as mucleation sites for crystals, but not zinc silicate crystals. Remember that all kinds of crystals can grow in a glaze, but the zinc silicate ones we're usually after are just the biggest and prettiest .
Also, in an incomplete melt, the unmelted bits rise to the top.
Now, you can't say you haven't been warned, if the glaze formula calls for Cone 8, Cone 9 or Cone 10, that's absolutely where you need to fire it if you want some nice crystals in your glaze..

When life deals you lemons, make lemonade.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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