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So, I do a lot of glaze testing.  I still haven’t posted all the pictures I plan on posting, but it’s getting there.  But believe me, there are boxes of little pots and tiles with nasty avocado green and poo brown (for example) glazes on them littering our house.

One major hurdle to glaze testing is having enough of the thing to which the glaze is going to be applied.  Well, this is true for me at least.  I like to do line blends.  Years of scientific research have taught me that the one condition you think will be worthless is usually your best test subject.  Typically, a line blend for me is a 10% step down so there are 11 total tests in each series (100% à 0%).  We started out by having Rob throw lots of little miniature pots.  He hates this, I think, and truthfully it does take away from the amount of time he is able to throw real pottery.  So, we started rolling out slabs of clay and cutting them into tiles.  There was a lot of folding, breaking, bad language, etc and of course it was very slow.  The process was involved because I need tiles that are self-supporting but also thin enough to mimic Robert’s throwing thickness.

So, a while ago we got a pugmill.  It’s a fantastic invention, and I don’t really know how we lived without it.  We had the forethought to order the “tile nozzle” attachment.  This reduces the size and shape of the cylindrical pug to a flat 2 inch x 5 inch tile.  It also came with a few pieces of plywood.  These one uses to cut little shapes out of to make “dies” for the pugmill through which clay can be extruded.  So, in principal it’s just like a hand driven extruder except it has a motorized auger and vacuum pump – YES!

So, we thought about it and came up with a self supporting shape – sort of an upside down 7.  We cut this shape out of the plywood and affixed the negative die to the end of the tile nozzle extension.  After a little fiddling with clay of different consistencies, I managed to produce about 50 test tiles in less than half an hour.  Woo Hoo!!!

Now that I can pug these little puppies out, the limiting step is how fast I can mix each dilution in a line blend.  I’ll have to figure out some way to automate that next.  When I do, I’ll be rich!  The kiln is on a bisque cycle right now and has about 400 little tiles in it.  I am so excited I could barf.  Too bad I already have enough tests planned for all 400 tiles.

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