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Welcome

This is our new site as of Aug 25, 2020. It may look similar but we have consolidated duplicated effort in four stores into a common platform, this will enable much better growth and help us to serve you better. We are will be configuring and adapting it in the coming weeks for better functionality on smartphones. And, stay tuned for more services to come.

Click the links to the left to get information and pricing on our products. Click the "Plainsman Data Sheets" for details information on the use and Plainsman clay bodies and glazes. The blog below is intended to help you with all manner of technical issues in ceramic hobby production, these posts come every few days, so check back often.

Technical Tips Blog

How is it possible for the same body to work well at both cone 04 and 6!

The same clay body fits glazes at low temperature and is a stoneware at medium fire. How?

Plainsman 3D! White cone 04 bodies are not vitreous and strong and neither is this. But it is plastic, smooth and fits common low fire glazes. How? 15% Nepheline Syenite (also 50% Plainsman 3D, 35% ball clay and 3% bentonite). The unmelted nepheline particles impose their higher thermal expansion on the fired ceramic. Spectrum 700 clear glaze does not craze and does not permit the entry of water (the mug is glazed across the bottom and fired on a stilt). The mug on the right is made from the same clay, it has been fired ten cones higher, cone 6! Here the nepheline is acting as a flux, producing a dense and very strong stoneware (with G2926B, GA6-B glazes). This is incredible! One note: This cannot be deflocculated and used for casting, soluble salts in the 3D gel the slurry.

Context: Nepheline Syenite, 3D Clay, Low Fire White Talc Casting Body Recipe

Friday 30th October 2020

An incredible M390-compatible cone 6 red-burning casting body

A red cone 6 thrown glazeless coffee mug with a cast handle

This mug was thrown. But the handle was cast from L4005D, the recommended recipe for an M390-compatible casting body. This is not a product you can buy, you have to mix it yourself, but we have plenty of instructions and pictures. The fired maturity of the two (fired shrinkage and porosity) matches very well. The casting process is superior for certain shapes and ware types. And now, with 3D printing, it is much easier to make many kinds of casting molds. This handle mold is made by pouring plaster into a 3D printed form. These are strong, the handle on this glazeless mug endured a couple of good taps with a hammer and stayed solid. With glaze, the strength would be much better. The body fires a little browner in color than M390. It would be redder if we included more iron oxide in the recipe, but that would gel the slurry and make it harder to work with. As a red-burning body, this one has better casting properties than any other we have used.

Context: Our base glazes plus opacifiers on a dark burning body at cone 6, A novel way to test glaze compression and glaze fit, Plainsman M390

Thursday 29th October 2020

Plainsman Warehouse 1 getting a new roof

Our main warehouse is actually a historic building in our city. It was part of the former Medicine Hat Potteries (1938-55) and then Hycroft China till 1989. We depend heavily on it to be able to maintain a large stock of bodies and materials. It needs a new roof, that is a big job on a building this size. The roof has multiple drain sites that feed to large pipe suspended inside, today was the day to test the new system.

Context: Plainsman Clays

Thursday 29th October 2020

This on only 2/3 of the M340 we have in stock!

Yes, this entire long line of pallets is only M340. It is not just reliable from a physical properties point of view but it has a reliable supply. M340 is our largest selling clay body. When customers go to a dealer to get some they will generally have it. If they order it from us we can ship it quickly because we have it in stock. And the stock turns over quickly so what the customer gets is freshly-made.

Context: Plainsman Clays

Tuesday 20th October 2020

Knowing about recipe limits would save you the work of testing this glaze

A recipe accompanied by fancy pictures that make it look credible

This is an example of a recipe being trafficked online that raises red flags just looking at it. The first red flag: There is no silica! That means this is a low fire glaze masquerading as middle temperature, so it is going to run during firing (run a lot). It will also mean poor durability. There is a ton of feldspar, that means a high level of sodium. Without low-expansion MgO to counterbalance it's high thermal expansion the glaze is likely going to craze badly. The mechanism of the crystallization is titanium over-supply, this has triple the maximum I would ever put in a glaze. The crystallization happens during cooling in the kiln (producing the visual effect being sought). But the the surface produced will cutlery mark and stain, probably very badly. Given the unbalanced chemistry this has, any colorant added will likely be leachable! I tested it and all my fears were realized. My slow-cool firing made the surface so dry it was very unpleasant to touch. Maybe this needs fast cooling. But who knows, there are no notes. This does not appear to belong on any functional ware, inside or outside. Someone noted that people use this to produce layering effects (see links). That begs documentation on how that wold work. Without gum would it lift and crawl as layers are added over it. Would you have to overlay every square inch? Would it still craze? All the how-to information needed to make it work are more important that the recipe itself.

Context: Trafficking in Glaze Recipes, Crystal Magic at cone6pots.com, Stephen Hill Pottery, Limit Recipe

Thursday 15th October 2020

G1916Q transparent on terra cotta body at cone 06, 05, 03

Three clear-glaze terra cotta mugs with rich red color

The body is Plainsman L215. We used the 04DSDH firing schedule. The glaze is inexpensive to make so we have a 2 gallon bucket. It has good dipping much like a stoneware glaze so it is easy to apply quickly and evenly. For most terra cottas, body strength increases dramatically by cone 03. However the most transparent and glassy glaze surface happens at cone 06. Terra cotta bodies need to be bisque fired fairly low (e.g. cone 06) to have enough porosity to work well with dipping glazes. After cone 06 they generate increasing amounts of gases (as various particle species decompose within), for this reason the glazes can have more micro-bubble clouding or tiny dimples in the surface. This glaze has 2% iron oxide added as a fining agent to remove the bubbles. That iron also reddens the color and variegates the surface somewhat. Even though the surface character at cone 03 is not a smooth, it has a natural charm, and the color is very rich. And that piece has stoneware durability and strength.

Context: G1916Q, Terra cotta

Thursday 15th October 2020

Add 2% iron oxide to a transparent glossy low temperature glaze to get better color, less clouding

Two brilliantly transparent glazed terra cotta mugs

Both pieces are the same clay body, Plansman L215. Both are fired to cone 03. Both are glazed using G1916Q recipe. The glaze on the piece on the left has 2% added iron oxide (and sieved to 80 mesh). Each grain of iron (which is refractory in this situation) acts to congregate the micro-bubbles so they can move through the glaze layer. Notice also how much richer the color is on that piece. The piece on the right does not have added iron oxide. It is not as red and not as transparent. Both of these mugs, by the way, are glazed on the bottom and were fired on stilts.

Context: Iron Oxide Red, G1916Q, Glaze Bubbles

Wednesday 7th October 2020

G1916Q on L215, L212, L210, L213, Buffstone at cone 03

Five fired test tile with a clear glaze

The G1916Q recipe uses common Ferro frits and fits most low fire bodies (except this with high talc). It is easier to tune its recipe to adjust thermal expansion adjustable than others we have published in the past. And it melts well down to cone 06. And we have a strategy to reduce clouding and micro-bubbling. These five test tiles were fired using the 04DSDH schedule (drop-and-hold) firing schedule. Results are flawless. All exited from the kiln without crazing. The L215, L213, L210 and L212 samples subsequently survived a 300F/Icewater test without crazing, but the Buffstone did not (it needs a higher thermal expansion glaze adjustment). The L213 would not likely survive a cold-to-hot test without shivering (it needs a lower thermal expansion adjustment).

Context: G1916Q

Wednesday 7th October 2020

The first of 15 "Fool-Proof Recipes" wrecked my kiln shelf!

A melt flow tester showing how a normal glazes runs when melting compared to this one

This is recommended in the booklet "15 Tried and True Cone 6 Glaze Recipes". This melt flow tester compares it with a typical cone 6 glossy, G2926B. This recipe is 90% Frit 3110 and 10% kaolin and their booklet recommends adding stains to it. But anyone knowing a little about this frit knows it would run off this flow tester even before bisque temperatures. It is crazy to recommend this. Even as a crackle. For cone 6 it needs to be diluted much more, not just with kaolin but also silica. I knew this would run but I underestimated its melt fluidity. I put a large tile below the tester to catch overrun, yet the melt ran off that and a big three-cm-wide blob melted through the kiln wash and so far into my zircon shelf I cannot chip it off! I cannot imagine how many people have tried this on vertical surfaces and had the same thing happen. The lesson: Use common sense when looking at recipes, then you don't even need waste time testing them. Even if their authors did not!

Context: Ferro Frit 3110, Trafficking in Glaze Recipes, Tried and True recipes. Really?, Trafficked online recipes waiting for a victim to try them!, Melt Fluidity, Limit Recipe

Wednesday 30th September 2020

Saint Rose Red being delivered. Look what it does at cone 10R!

Dump trucks delivering the bright red lump clay to the Plainsman plant

We get this clay from St. Rose, Manitoba. Four tandem loads arrived this week. Just seeing the pile inspires me to make more pieces! It is a red fireclay and it is highly unusual. St. Rose Red has issues. They at first seem to be problems, but in combination they give it magic powers! It fires with very heavy iron speckling. The iron pigmentation is so high that it burns almost black at cone 10R. It has low plasticity. It shivers glazes: The vase on this picture lasted an hour after kiln exit, it spontaneously fractured because of the outward pressure from the under-compression glaze on the inside. But, by combining St. Rose Red with our more vitreous clays, which are highly plastic, we can make H440 and H443. But guess what happens when feldspar is added? A mix of 45 St. Rose, 40 Ball clay and 15 feldspar produces a rustic metallic surface (like the cup shown). Such a body cannot be made from a low fire red clay (like RedArt), it would just warp and collapse in the kiln. It is the refractory character, heavy pigmentation, iron speckling and low plasticity of St. Rose that make metallic ware possible.

Context: Saint Rose Red, The stockpile of St. Rose Red fireclay at the Plainsman plant, Plainsman Red Fireclay (Fire-Red), Laguna B-Mix on Steroids: Wedge in some Plainsman Fire-Red!

Wednesday 16th September 2020

Plainsman Pottery Supply, 9517 - 41 Ave NW, EDMONTON, AB T6E 5X7
Phone: 780-440-4791, FAX: 780-490-759, Email: larry@plainsmanclays.com