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Re: [teacherartexchange] waxing bottoms of pots?

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From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Mar 28 2007 - 06:59:56 PDT


>My collegue at the high school suggested I try his method of waxing the bottoms of pots that were going to be dipped in glaze. It worked wonderfully well, made the dipping and shelving of glazed pots so simple and easy. No stilting needed. It was really fast, and I love fast. . . .
>
>Except .... firing it is very smelly. . . .

I never fire with stilts and seldom use wax. Some high fire clay sags if fired on stilts. In the past, I have used wax on the bottoms of pots. I find that it is just as effective to 'dryfoot' the pot and sculpture bottoms by sponging the bottoms after glazing. I decided that the wax costs about as much as the wasted glaze that is sponged off. I also figured that it is probably an environmental wash between smoking up the air with petroleum products or washing a little glaze down the drain. If students use hot wax, there are safety issues. If wax resist is used, the cost of the wax is higher.

It is possible, if you can deal with the hassle, to be save the glaze by sponging the bottoms into a water bucket and letting the glaze settle to the bottom. Pour off the water, and keep the glaze ingredients to use as a 'hash glaze'. I call it 'wonder glaze". Some call these 'Glaze X', Y, and Z. After it accumulates, test it to see what color it is, and it becomes another color choice. If nobody likes it, add a bit of colorant like iron oxide and test it. If you are using all non-toxic glazes, an ugly hash glaze color that fires smooth can be used for the inside of closed forms as cheap liner.

With either system, whoever loads the kiln has to check every bottom. With wax there is always the chance that a student left some glaze beads on the wax. When sponging off the glaze, there is always the chance that a student forgot to do it, or did it poorly.

We always have to decide what to do with the work of careless students. If there is more work than fits in the kiln, I set it back and do not fire it until the student cleans it. If there is room in the kiln, I sometimes fire it on a little bisque slab with thick kiln wash and let forgetful student chip it off. They can glue felt on the bottom to conceal the mess. We can stilt it or clean it up for the student and ignore the oversight (not educational, but sometimes it is expedient).

Marvin

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