Tales from the Wood

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Low Energy Ceramic Composites

Ceramic composites are becoming increasingly prevalent in the new technological fields of precision engineering. However, very little translates, so it seems, to arts and crafts practice.

It's a complex and sometimes an eye-wateringly difficult subject, but at it's simplest level, it can be viewed as a way of extending established ceramic methods by exploring different components to form sintered bodies. Or in other words, using other materials besides clay!

To cut a long story short, I've been testing some simple composites to try and cut down firing time. It certainly seems to make sense to reduce energy consumption, but also, as an interesting spin-off, it became apparent that a simple way of constructing, was to use folded-paper moulds. This technique proved nigh on impossible with standard clay slip, for more reasons that I can list here, but with a carefully designed composite, it casts up strongly and the paper mould can easily be peeled off (and recycled). Glazing is also straightforward.

As to firing times. Well, to achieve a comfortable low-fire (raku) temperature, it takes about 10 minutes. And no, absolutely no pre-firing needed!



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