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 Tip for Today


Common Problems with Bisque-ware

   This month we are going to try to cover some of the most common problems that occur with ceramic bisque pieces.

     The most common problem we are asked about is bisque that will not take paint in spots. If you are painting with stains you could spray the item with a few coats of porcelain spray sealer, let dry thoroughly and then finish painting your piece. If you are painting with under-glazes you can sand the area lightly with a fine grade sandpaper, this will allow the under-glaze to adhere to the item.

     Another problem we find people come across when buying bisque from auctions is that some businesses may not have standards as high as what most of us would consider acceptable. When this happens you receive your item that you wanted to glaze except it is discolored in spots or it is yellowish brown in color.

      There are two possible causes for this, the first is that your item had been stored in a damp location and mold spores have begun to grow in spots on your piece.
Re-firing this piece will restore your item and will enable you to glaze the piece. The second cause of this would be that the item had been fired at too high of a temperature. Under this scenario re-firing the item will do absolutely no good, you really have no choice except to stain the item.


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Pouring Ceramic Green ware
Items We Learned About Pouring
When is your mold is dry enough to pour?
by Dolores Swaldi [c] 2004


Have you, or have you ever wanted to try making your own ceramic item from beginning to end? A lot of us have and quite frankly itís a lot of fun. In this article we will cover some of the lessons we have learned while pouring items at our warehouse. Just a few tips to help you with some of the more common situations we have encountered.

      Well, you have just received a new mold from your supplier and like all of us are very anxious to pour and remove the first piece. But before we can do this we must ensure the mold is dry enough to use. Most ceramic mold companies do not stock a large number of any one mold. They keep expenses down by keeping inventories to a minimum, and usually will not produce the molds until after the order is placed. This means you will most likely receive a mold that must dry completely before you can start producing any items



      The best way to check to see if the mold is too wet to pour is by using a moisture meter, a reading of under 12% is desirable. These meters are readily available through many wood working suppliers and specialty shops. If you do not have a moisture meter, you can estimate the moisture level with practice (although not as accurately), by using your hands to feel the texture and the temperature of the mold. A very wet mold will feel slick and cold, while a mold that is ready to be poured will feel dry and warm. When using the latter method experience is the best teacher, the more you pour the better you will become at judging when it is time to let a mold sit and dry to avoid damage.

     It is very important to never over produce from any mold. It is best to set limits on how many items you will consecutively produce from an individual mold before its next use. We have a general rule to never pour the same mold more than five times in a row without letting it dry thoroughly. This enables us to increase its life span, and lowers our costs since the molds last much longer keeping their details for a longer amount of time before needing to be replaced

     Some of you are probably wondering how can a mold being to moist lead to damage? The simplest way to explain this is to have you take a dry piece of plaster with small details engraved and lightly run your finger over the surface. You will see little or no plaster on your finger and no noticeable change to the surface. But if you take the same piece of plaster and soak it in water until it is saturated and again rub your finger lightly over the surface. You will see the details disappear before your eyes and your finger will be covered in plaster paste. This is why we never want our molds to become over saturated, because once they do even the simple action of pouring slip into the mold can wash away some to the finer details.

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     Because of the amount of items we produce on a weekly basis, we have been forced to adapt to this problem in several ways. For the most requested items we always purchase several molds so when one hits its allotted use, we can switch to the other that has had ample time to fully dry. We have also installed a drying booth which is nothing more than a closed room with sturdy shelving and several dehumidifiers to expedite the drying process. This substantially reduces the drying time and allows us to produce more items in less time with less overhead


So there you are: We just about beat this subject to death. For those of you who would like to begin pouring green-ware we have listed links to a few ceramic mold suppliers above. Please check back for future articles on the ceramic craft or sign up for our free newsletter and never miss an article.

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Copyright [c] 2006 Dolly & Ernie
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About the Author:
Dolly Swaldi is the proprietor of this web site and has
been involved in the ceramic craft for over 28 years.

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