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Making Your Own Hydrometer

A hydrometer is used by a pottery worker or ceramist to tell the consistency of glaze. It is also used in brewing to test the specific gravity of beer or wine, which gives an indication of the alcohol content. We ain't making beer, so forget that!!

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Instead, we are checking to see how thick or thin our glaze is.
For us, the hydrometer will help us make sure that different batches of the same glaze will be the same thickness.
If the glaze is not the same thickness for each coat that you put on, the look of the fired glaze will look different.

Making A Hydrometer

Making your own hydrometer is easy as pie.
The following technique was shown to me by an old ceramist when I first started doing ceramics.
I was having trouble with my glazes not firing to the color that it was supposed to be. This proved to be a simple answer and easy solution to my problem.

All you need is a piece of aluminum tubing, about 8" long and 5/8" diameter.
A piece of hard plastic tubing could also be used and a tubing cutter will work to cut the tubing.
I prefer the plastic tubing myself.
I go to the hardware store and get pvc tubing.
Find a large ball bearing that will close up one end and glue it into place with a water resistant glue or silicone.
I use the silicone, I think it is more reliable.
Temporarily seal the other end with a piece of cork and see if the hydrometer floats ok in a bucket of water.
When you are satisfied that it floats, take the tube out of the water and either scratch in the surface or use a permanent marker and make marks about 0.4 " in equal lengths from each other.
Number your marks from 1 to 20 from top to bottom, the bottom is where your weight is.
If the hydrometer doesn't float with about half to two thirds of the tube submerged, you need to add some weight.
This can be done as easily as just taking the cork out of the top and dropping in a couple of smaller ball bearings or some other sufficiently heavy object until you are happy with the result.

Glazes with a higher density will have a higher reading, meaning the hydrometer will float higher in the liquid and glazes with a lower density will have a lower reading.
If a comparative reading is too high, you need to add water, if it is too low, you need to add more glaze powder.
Make sure and stir your glazes good every time you measure the thickness of your glaze, otherwise readings can be different because some materials in the glaze tend to settle to the bottom of the bucket

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

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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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