In the past couple weeks I’ve been making headway with my finishing techniques and construction methodology. I purchased a Dremel and jewelry-scale drill bits to more efficiently make consistent, refined holes in each tile. I also ordered a variety of silver wire samples in a range of gauges from fourteen to twenty because I was still not decided on the gauge I would need for the rings that connect the tiles versus the chain that will allow the pieces to hang around the neck.
It was important for me to compare the wire with the fired samples before making any final decisions because of course, clay shrinks and since I’m not a math person. I wasn’t willing to calculate the diameter of a 1/16″ hole after its shrunk 20% and then relate that measurement to wire gauges. To messy. So after firing the samples I decided that the best wire to use for the jump rings would be twenty gauge which fits comfortably into the 3/64″ drilled holes. For the chain I will be using eighteen gauge wire in correspondence with the 1/16″ drilled holes.
Incidentally, when I fired my hole tests I decided to wipe my frit/stain mixture into the etchings on a whim. This time I sanded the surface with 320-grit sandpaper before firing. My results were much cleaner than any of my prior testing without the use of wax. I fired a second test kiln with this method using two new grey mason stains I ordered – Pearl Grey 6506 and Silver 6530. I intended to fire the kiln to cone 7 to see if firing hotter would produce more vitreous results so I placed a cone pack with cones 6 and 7 in the kiln. Oddly enough, both cones were completely bent which leads me to believe that it was fired to cone 8, or at least at least a temperature wavering between cone 7 and cone 8.
The temperature difference between cone 6 and cone 8 isn’t even a full 300 degrees but the pieces turned out much more vitreous overall with a subtle sheen and they fired flatter. After firing these pieces I sanded them with 600-grit sandpaper and the surfaces are like butter. The only downside to firing hotter is that the shrinkage rate of the clay skyrockets. Although I haven’t done an accurate measurement, I would say there is about a 20% shrinkage rate or higher.
aka Daniel Aktas
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