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BRONZclay Firing - Troubleshooting

BRONZclay brand clay is fired within a narrow range of temperatures. Going too far below or over the correct temperature can result in a firing failure. The photos below show how to tell if you need to raise or lower your target temperature to correct the problem.

Please keep in mind that these instructions are for the Original BRONZclay formula. If you are looking for information on Fast Fire Bronze Click here.

Signs of Overheating & Underfiring

This sample shows the surface of what appears to be a successful firing. The surface is smooth. There are no pits, cracks, dents or bubbles.

This is the back of the same piece. The back shows dents where it laid on the carbon. I was able to eliminate the dents by lowering the target temperature by 15 degrees.

Here is a piece showing bubbles that are caused by overheating. You can see a color difference in the area that is overheated. It's a crescent moon shape on the right. You can see where the metal began to bubble.

Here is the back of the same piece. You can better see how the metal bubbled up, then cooled. When you see this type of bubbling, it is an indication that the kiln is too hot. To alleviate this problem, lower your target temperature by 50 degrees F.

Here is another example of over-heating. This one shows signs of melting. The pieces has lost a lot of it's detail. Look at about the 3 o'clock position. You'll see where a bubble erupted, broke through and then collapsed.

The is the back of the sample above. The back of this piece should have been smooth. Instead, it shows signs of melting. I suggest lowering the target temperature by 100F if you see this type of over-heating.

This is a close up of the surface of a test ring. The surface has a very grainy appearance. It's attractive, but still technically over-heated. To eliminate this type of surface texture, lowering the target temperature by 15 degrees.

This piece is under-fired. It rings like metal when tapped lightly with a hammer...but it didn't pass the whack test. When broken open, the insides are metallic, but very brittle. This piece was not fired long enough. Since thickness determines the rate of heat for firing BRONZclay, be sure to measure your piece at it's thickest point to determine the correct heat rate.

This sample not fired long enough for it's thickness. It had no ring to it when tapped with a metal object. The piece felt solid, but a light whack with a hammer broke the piece to reveal the un-sintered center. The insides are powder, not sintered like the sample above. Again, this is an example of a piece that was not fired long enough. It's very important to measure BRONZclay items at their thickest point to determine the rate of heat for your particular kiln model.

This sample was dug from the red hot carbon and quenched in water. It was then hammered to test it's strength. The thermal shock of quenching has made this piece brittle, but it's a different brittle than a piece that has been under-fired. Thermal shock brittleness gives a"sticky" quality to the metal. You can definitely feel it when hammering. It has more of a dull thudding sound when it should be ringing.

Brittleness from cooling too slowly or from cooling too quickly is revealed by a grainy break.

This sample was fired inside a fiber blanket and then buried in activated carbon. The fiber blanket was sucked tight against the piece as the oxygen was sucked away by the carbon. The binder in the clay has carbonized. A piece like this will not sinter.

This piece was fired to 2000F by accident. This closeup photo shows the dendrite formations that occured on the surace. The sample started out as a rod.

What is this? A golden pearl? How strange. All around the ball, the metal was molten and even tried to alloy the carbon into it. The surface of the piece glitters with gold, silver and green, which does not show up in the photos.

More of the surface and the dendrites.

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