Handy Hints
Interactive page for your comments, glaze recipes,
handy hints & potter's information




  • Hand build delicate pieces on newspaper on a bat.  This helps prevent distortion as the piece shrinks.  The work can then slide easily without additional handling onto the kiln shelf: the newspaper burns away
  • (From Tricia Dean)  When mixing a line blend test, if you add dry colourants to a small volume of base glaze in solution, first pour one teaspoon of water gently onto the surface of the glaze, than add the colourant. (This will enable the colour to quickly blend into the glaze with merely a quick stir and eliminate the need for sieving.)
  • When testing a glaze, the volume of water to add to the dry ingredients is approx. two thirds of the volume of dry ingredients.  Use two identical cups to visually estimate this.  Add the dry ingredients to the water and allow it to slake down (wait for about two minutes).  There should be about 3 mm depth of water over the settled glaze ingredients.  If there is more, touch the surface of the water with a small sponge and draw off the excess.  Stir and apply to a test tile by dipping, pouring or brushing, as desired.
  • If you want perfectly texture free slabs, roll out the clay on Vilene.  Vilene is a stiffening material which comes in several weights.  Choose a heavy weight which will support the clay slab for transfer to the work surface.  Vilene is used in dressmaking and can be bought at a fabric shop.
  • To remove unwanted wax from a pot, microwave on high for five minutes - no need to re-bisque.
  • Fluid Glaze - If you have a fluid glaze you like and don't want to give it up even though it runs all over the kiln shelf, try putting a sliver of soft brick under the pot.  The brick will act like a sponge, soaking up any glaze that might run off the pot, thus protecting the shelf as well as your pot.
    With a cross cut saw,  this slice of soft brick can be easily cut from a brick and gently broken away from the pot after firing.  Some grinding, if necessary finishes the piece.
    Salt 2.0, Neph Syenite 47.6,  Spodumene 31.8, Zircon Opacifier 4.8, Alumina Hydrate 12.0, Bentonite 4.0
  • Hard Clay - If clay has become too hard to use, cut it into pieces, spray with water, and microwave on high for five minutes in a plastic bag.  The result should be soft clay.
  • Bats - Canvas cut to fit the wheel head can be used instead of a conventional bat.  Attach the canvas to the wheel with slip, making sure it is wrinkle free.  After throwing , slide your cutting wire under the canvas and the work will easily transfer to a board.  When piece is firm the canvas can be removed.
  • EGGSHELL GLAZE RECIPE - Stoneware Cone 10 reduction
    Potash Feldspar  140
    Dolomite             50
    Whiting                8
    Kaolin                 70
    this gives a clear transparent glaze
    /For Eggshell White glaze, use
    Magnesium carbonate   25     and
    Whiting                      25   - instead of dolomite.
  • "Mocha Tea" - Steep approximately 2 tblspns tobacco in boiling water for about a week.  Strain, squeeze out the liquid and reserve it.  When dropped from a loaded brush onto raw pot or freshly applied slip, mocha tea fans out from the drop to make a fern like image.  Several drops grouped make a decorative pattern.  Camels' urine may be substituted for the tobacco!
  • Sand casting -  for a sand cast tile mould, first make one or more wooden frames with a ply or pressed wood base.  They should be at least 508mm (19") in dimension with edges of at least 10.27 - 10.52 mm in height.  Next half fill the wooden tray with damp, fine sand and model into the sand a tile design that will be at least 305mm sq.  (12") and 25 - 50mm thick.  When the design is complete, pour into the recess some highly grogged casting slip and leave it to dry.  When leather hard, remove and brush off any surplus sand.  If desired, pigment areas of the tile with basic oxides when almost bone dry.  When bisqued, the tiles can have glaze applied by spraying or by hand, with brush, trailer or sponge.
  • Egyptian Paste: Base Glaze - Cone 010-06
    Recipe 1) Soda Feldspar 39.0, Silica 39.0, Ball clay 12.0, Soda Ash 6.0, Sodium Bicarbonate 6.0.
    Add up to 3% oxides or carbonates as a colourant.
    Recipe 2) Soda Feldspar 35.0, Silica 35.0, Ball clay/China Clay 12.0, Bentonite 2.09, Soda Bicarbonate 6.0, Sodium Carbonate 6.0
    Add up to 3% oxides or carbonates as a colourant.
    Recipe 3) A more plastic body, Cone 09 - 08
    Ball clay 25.0, Nephalene Syenite 25.0, Ferro Frit 3134 15.0, Silica 20.0, Fine Sand 5.0, Calcined Borax 3.0, Soda Ash 4.0, Bentonite 3.0
    Add up to 3% oxides or carbonates as a colourant.  Please note that maturing temperatures may vary due to differences in local materials.
  • Pots too Dry? To bring overly dry pots back to leather hard without cracking, wrap and line the pots with wet newspaper and leave for 24 hours.  They should then be ready for turning.
  • Raku - For excellent crackle results, fire your pot, take out of the kiln and allow to rest for about one minute.  When glaze 'pings' put the pot into the reduction container, cover with paper, allow to flame, then close the cover.  Leave for about two minutes, lift the lid and allow the paper to re-ignite.  Close the cover again and leave to reduce and cool normally.
  • Hand Moulding - Instead of the usual stocking filled with rice, try using a balloon filled with sand when pressing lay into a mould.  It fits easily into awkward bends and corners, and leaves a smooth finish, eliminating any stray finger marks.
  • Throwing - A useful idea when throwing is to have a mirror propped in front of the wheel, at a distance to suit yourself.  This enables you to see the development of the vessel easily and quickly without any discomfort.
  • Gold Leaf - when firing gold leaf onto pots, use a combination of pine resin and eucalyptus oil as a medium to adhere the leaf to the pots.   Gold will adhere to itself so you do not need to add oil between any layers of leaf.. You can move the leaf about and break it up once it is on the oil.  Fire, well ventilated, using safety precautions for toxicity (masks, etc) to 750 degrees celsius.
  • Drinking straws can be used most effectively as armatures for arms and legs when making small ceramic sculpture.  Use the heavy duty jumbo straws with 'elbows' that bend, the clay can be built around these in almost any desirable position.  The main advantage in using these is that you have a built in air space that is indispensable in the drying and firing stages.  Another advantage is that they will burn out in the firing.
  • Marketing tips:
    1) Search for what makes your business different from your competitors and market that difference
    2) If there is no difference, create one.  If you find this difficult then get help.  You must find that difference.  It's how you will succeed in business
    3) Develop a database of customers and make special offers to them.  Use pre-emptive advertising techniques.
    4) Focus on making your advertising really work for you.  Avoid using any ads that don't work.  measure responses from every advertisement.
    5) Create response advertising by always asking the customer to:  Write to us at......Phone us on .....Fax us on ......Book now.....Act now.
  • Glazing: Cover the glaze page you are using with a sheet of clear plastic and cross off each ingredient with a white board marker as you go.  Wipe clean when finished or discard.
  • Glazing: To exchange cobalt carbonate for cobalt oxide - divide the carbonate amount by 100 and multiply by 63 to give the oxide amount.  Vice Versa: Divide the oxide amount by 63 and multiply by 100 to give the carbonate amount.
  • Glazing: From Peter Rushforth: To avoid thick glazes or glazes prone to running from dripping down onto your kiln shelf, dip the lower half in water before dipping into the glaze.  It will then absorb a thinner layer of glaze.