Fara Shimbo really has done some great work. I trained in solid state chemistry, and have always been fascinated with crystal growth. It's a pleasure to read these crystalline glaze volumes; the breadth of both her understanding and enthusiasm are remarkable.
All I have to say is "Bless You!" I am a beginning potter (just 2 1/2 years of community ed) and glazes are a complete mystery to me. The professional potters I have come to know use the "hit & miss" method of glaze formulation, and the community college I attend hasn't the funding or space to educate re: glazes! In my previous life (before marriage & children) I was a chemistry major. The lack of science used by local potters has had me completely baffled--no one has ever cared to find out WHY their glazes were performing poorly!!!
I am having a BLAST learning about glaze chemistry from *The Magic of Fire* (I recommend this book highly).
I seriously doubt that I would have an inkling about ceramic chemistry and process without the help you have given me through your programs, books, web site and emails.
I have had wonderful success with INSIGHT...one supplier here said that what 'little' practical benefit I would get from INSIGHT would not even justify the initial cost..I always preferred to veiw glazes from the oxide viewpoint and as a 'total package' as opposed to base and additions, and with the aid of your program I was able to review and update my chemistry knowledge quickly..and was able to produce and modify glaze to suit my needs efficiently with little time or material wasted. The excellent results I have had has definitely changed their tune. She called BBS 3/20/95 read info. Downloaded info 5/21/95.
Your web site is wonderful. You guys are my knight-in-shinning-armor to slay that dragon. Learned more about glaze chemistry on your web page than in a graduate program at RISD.
Well, I must tell you that you are currently my hero and I am spreading the word about INSIGHT to any of the potters I know that will listen, (although I must confess that I think many get scared to death when I talk about glaze chemistry.)
I regularly use your website for information on many technical aspects of glaze chemistry. I find it extremely useful and thank you for your service.
I've become fascinated with Glaze chemistry in the last year or so, have purchased your book, and refer to your site from time to time as well...What a great resource! I have read your book a couple of times, but have not completely digested all of it. I suspect it takes most folks quite a bit of time!
I am a beginner potter setting up a studio at home. Having an extensive background in chemistry, I was elated to find a site addressing all the questions I had. I knew I didn't want to take the 'glaze junkie' approach. THANKS!!!
I've never been satisfied with the glazes I've used. Most of them are either commercial stuff or house glazes at the studio. I'm hoping that through the Insight product and the Magic of Fire I can get a better understanding of the physics and the chemistry of glazes and have more control over what happens inside the kiln and what it looks like outside the kiln. I've been reading the book and fooling about with the software and so far I'm learning quite a bit about what oxides do, what fluxes do, and so forth. Good stuff indeed. I've got high hopes.
I have a Mac and operate OSX. You can send it to me at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemisty ... Again, thank you, I really enjoy working with INSIGHT.
I have never understood the chemistry part of clay and glazes, so what you have done is great for me ... Your site is remarkable, but truthfully, I am just beginning to grasp parts if it.
Insight has been an excellent tool in helping to adjust glazes and understand glaze chemistry.
Your program will take me leaps ahead in understanding how all these chemicals work to form a stable glaze. I cannot thank you enough. I am ready to make this "leap" into the world of glaze calculations. I have longed to understand glaze formualtion and until now I have been unable to find a way to learn it. Most teachers here, really do not care about the whys and the chemistry behind it. I am really so excited to be beginning this process. Thanks so much for all of your hard work, I greatly appreciate what you and Ron are doing.
I have a PhD in chemistry (inorganic), and I spent many years taking data ... Let me say again that I am so very pleased with Insight! -- It gives me the ability to approach the glaze development with much better understanding. It is a favorite tool of in my arsenal!
I talked my employer into buying your INSIGHT SOFTWARE. THANK YOU. It has helped me solve many problems by adjusting glaze chemistry.
I thank you for creating such an informative program that is going to help me transform into a glaze guru!! I was so excited to finally buy your program. I was ready through the book of fire and getting butterflies just thinking about the programs potential. Glaze chemistry is so overlooked and neglected in schools it's appalling so to have this resource exceptionally wonderful. Thank you.
The book has been most helpful, and has allowed me organize my testing methods to such a degree (and record-keeping) that I am making much more meaningful progress in my in my thrashing advances through the high temperature chemistry jungle of crystalline glazes.
I'm excited to get started learning how to use the program. I've drawn much from your online glaze chemistry information over the years, and now I hope to apply some of that knowledge effectively.
I have never experienced such great customer service as I have with you. I truly appreciate it. Your program has helped me understand glaze chemistry and when the results do not turn out as hoped, I can analyze it and modify it based on some knowledge.
I knew nothing about chemistry, so I have already learned a great deal from the information you've so generously provided on-line.
I'm trying to develop a group of cone 6 glazes. I did have knowledge of Glaze Chemistry to manually do the glazes. Anyway I'm up and running with INSIGHT. I'm impressed!
I am very impressed with your generosity & your beautiful new program. Now, if it can teach a non-chemistry person like me (I always avoided it in h.s. & college) how to make glazes with understanding, then I will be in your debt forever!
I just opened the kiln this morning and for the first time in my 30+ years. Total silence. There was not even one ping of crazing. It is said that some time the most monumental events go by in a whisper, but this one needs a shout: THANK YOU, Tony Hansen and all your team at Digitalfire for your persistent vision to put a technically valuable glaze chemistry tool, INSIGHT, in the hands of potters.
I love the Insight software as I can compare glazes based on the chemistry. I enter the recipes into Insight to get the chemical analysis of the glaze then enter that into spreadsheets to compare multiple glaze recipes. I had taken a Materials Analysis class at the University of Minnesota .. the Insight software was indispensible for me when I took this class.
As I have downloaded the Insight software; I have started to study everything about it. It's an amazing thing, and I was very taken by it. I admire the work that you have placed into it and also your knowledge of Chemistry practice.
I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU.. Thanks so much - !!! I hope one day to really understand all about coordinating the oxides - its so so interesting and such a challenge to learn since I never took chemistry in school..... !
With my Digital Fire software I will be able to see recipes I concoct or decide to borrow and see chemistry information about those recipes pertaining to how I want the glaze to look, and get an idea from expansion info. if a recipe may give problems on my clay bodies, etc. Thank so much for all the information you put out there ..... it really is helpful and edifies and save my reputation as a artist making and selling ceramics.
I'm actually a trained chemist, I specialised in ceramic Chemistry before I moved over to bio and Forensic. I think Insight is a great tool for any ceramic chemist, it's great that we don't have to faff about developing our own spreadsheets!!! I used it all the time when I took my doctorate years ago. It's been a while.... so I really need to get to know the programme again.
Now that I have purchased the software, I am finding all of this information and so many of my questions are being answered as I watch and digest the videos you made. Let me just say that what you have provided is amazing - and the way you provide the information is so digestible even for someone like me who has absolutely no understanding chemistry or what is involved in making glazes. I understand so much more, I can't even believe that I got a grasp of the Batch & Formula recipe sections on the videos. I will be working the lessons plans you provide too to become better at this. The software provides a lot more than meets the eye.... INSIGHT is worth every penny!
I'll be reading and studying for a while, but what is so great is that the information is now right at my finger tips anytime that I need it - its all so very interesting - I never thought that chemistry would ever be interesting, - and I know now very soon I too will be able to slay the glaze dragon!
I think Glaze chemistry is an extremely under-appreciated and under-estimated field of science.
The current problems that prompted me to look for software are not exotic. Cornwall stone is $84 USD, G-200 is $14, so how much of what can we substitute to convert our favorite matt blue ^10 glaze? Why do some glazes craze sometimes and not others? Besides that I find the chemistry fascinating. We have recipes that work very well. I'd like to understand why. The math I find tedious; I did similar analysis for a course on ruminant nutrition, solving for protein, energy, calcium and potassium. Insight will allow me to explore the chemistry without spending so much time on the calculations.
My impression is that a large proportion of students passing through Higher Education in Ceramics either are not taught the Chemistry or are not interested in it. It seems that the Aethsetic or Creative side is more important. However maybe I am old school but I believe that you can't build a house unless you know how to lay bricks.
Love the software! I never took chemistry - not even in high school. Yet, I can take those unity formulas from the Boraq pages (like lavender, butterscotch, the iron red) and create a recipe that actually works and looks real close to the pictures on the web pages. I have also converted GB recipes over to Boraq and it is hard to see any difference, except for 1 recipe.
Presently, I am learning glaze chemistry and have been to the digitalfire web site many times to peruse the educational and technical materials. Although I have a background in molecular biology, most of the chemistry I used was biochemistry but the inorganic chemistry is returning quickly as my review continues daily. Moreover, there is no doubt that knowledge of ceramic chemistry will enhance understanding and controlling the different aspects of glazing. May the fire with be you.
Your software loaded fine and looks great. Your message of control is spot-on. I have a Master of Fine Art degree where I concentrated in ceramics ... Coming from a time when I did all the chemistry on pad and paper, I'm delighted to see the strides you've made in your software because I've got 15 years of ideas pent up.
The software installed great. I bought it specifically due to a crazing issue and to help with the fear of understanding glaze chemistry more fully. The video tutorials are useful. Insight as an invaluable tool to this quest of course, sort of a working course that goes at the users pace but which allows them to create their own recipes and truly understanding the chemistry behind them.
I like your software. My background is engineering so I am comfortable with all the chemistry and the program sure does all the work. INSIGHT has been a big help!
Our Advanced Clay Class is studying the chemistry of clays and glazes this semester. Our professor, told us we really should buy Insight, he says it will be a tremendous help to us from here on out. He says Insight is a must-have for every potter. I took a brief look at it, and know it will be a great resource. It looks to pretty easy to follow, too.
I like xxx software, but Insight is much much better, in allowing us to modify and observe. Not to mention the materials database and all the video tutorials you put together. My favorite is the one about whiting and LOI. Even though your tutorial is about how to use the SW, it has a lot of great chemistry information, so it both a class and a tutorial! It was really mind blowing to understand about the LOI, now I understand why some of our glazes that have high organic content burn out (like whiting and Ash glazes) create cool effect when you layer another glaze on top....
I was the kind of potter that saw a glaze, fell in love with it, got the recipe, followed the recipe and that was that. ... Chemistry wasn't my strong area although, looking at your program, I can see where a lot of mystery and frustration could be avoided. If only I had access to your program in grade 12!
I am firing a downdraft propane kiln to cone 10. I have been using the Digitalfire software to better understand the glazes I know and see their similarities/differences. I enjoy glaze chemistry but I am tired of testing blindly and floundering around with countless buckets of glazes that don't really satisfy. I want to test smarter.
So far your site has been a blessing in that I don't feel I have to go anywhere else to get my information, you have it all (at least as far as I can see now) right here in one place. I am new to glaze formulation but not to ceramics. Recently I have had a crazing problem with a certain clay body I am using and as of today I feel confident I can solve it using information on your website. It is I who want to thank you for making such a clear and concise information depository that can be used by all, especially those new to glaze chemistry.
I tried your glaze program some time ago and didn't buy it because I didn't know enough about glaze chemistry. I evaluated 3 glaze programs and liked yours the best. I really want to start making more of my glazes. Last weekend I went to a glaze chemistry workshop with Paul Lewing. Now I think I know enough about glaze chemistry to purchase your glaze program.
I went to school for ceramics a few decades ago, but went to the wrong school as they did not provide glaze chemistry. My teacher would like to help me select a palette of premixed glazes to give me a quick start. I have chosen the route of learning the glaze chemistry on my own.
I love your program and would love to explore the possibility of integrating it into this class. I found the students interested in the chemistry as well as the creation. Thank for your work over the years, your product is great.
I am one of those weird people who understood basic and organic chemistry and did very well in it. I also am a decent cook, so the idea of glaze chemistry is especially appealing for me. I downloaded INSIGHT to get just that, insight into the realm of ceramic chemistry. I do intend to become a level 2 member at the expiration of the trial.
On the clay side of things - I used Insight to calibrate a glaze substituting Strontium for Barium. Worked out great! Could not have done it without looking at the chemistry. Would have ended up an oxide imbalance if had just done a 1 for 1 replacement.
I have been in this ceramic line with 15 years experience covering the idustires right from porcelain insulators,vitrified tiles etc., With the help of chemistry graduation I started my career in the cermaic industry. This website is very much helpful in fine tuning and upgrading my experience with enhanced knowledge of ceramics.
And I have started learning to use your (free trial) glaze chemistry calculator (standalone) program called 'Insight' - as well as your 'online only' glaze database 'insight-live' (lite?). The tutorial videos are brilliant.
All your info on glaze chemistry and material characteristics are very informative and great catalysts for pushing me to take things a bit further. Most appreciated.
I started hunting for more information and that was when I discovered Insight and I haven't looked back. I am not a chemist, but I have enough advanced quantitative training from other areas that, with the help of your excellent videos and reference material, I was able to jump into Insight and more generally glaze chemistry feet first. Thanks again for a great piece of software and your continued support of it.
Thanks! I am feeling super liberated to be diving into glaze chemistry - you have done an amazing body of work and I am very appreciative.
BTW, I do a lot of reading about glaze chemistry and find that Magic of Fire to be one of the most informative and straight-forward texts out there! Thank you!
Just wanted to thank you for the timeline. I check for new posts every day and think it is a brilliant way for you to keep me thinking about clay and glaze chemistry.
I use the site often and appreciate all the information you share so willingly. Mostly the site is a fantastic reference and has profoundly improved my understanding of glaze chemistry.
My glazes activities are seasonal anyway. In the summer i make pots in winter I think about chemistry and sit at a PC. I looked at your pricing again and it is indeed reasonable.
I think the work you do with glaze chemistry is invaluable and amazing. And unique to the industry.
Thank you very much for creating these examples and explanations. I am getting a much better understanding for why Frits are so much better. Now that I am digging into InSight-Live and manipulating the chemistry, this documentation is the main place where I can find the facts and suggestions that help clear up my questions. Thank you for creating such a very practical and wonderful upgrade . The interface is so nice and even forgiving. Thank You Very Much,
I think you have done a great job in developing the on-line version. It is very easy to use. We meet once a month to discuss any glaze problems, test glazes in teams, and I do a presentation on an aspect of glaze chemistry. One day, I said something technical and one of the member's jaw dropped and she said "Hey, I just realized I understood what you said". It was a proud moment.
Your site, I think, is the best source of information on ceramics that I have found. I have always wanted to know how things work rather than just doing it because someone said so. Your site gives reasons why and how to apply what you have learned! I've learned much from you and now I am enrolled in chemistry classes to better understand what you present on your site. Thank your for the Digital Fire Website and the Insight-live Site.
Looking at your website, I have no doubts that there is no other person that would be so dedicated to the subject as you. It is a fact that you have a truly unique knowledge of how things are done, the materials and chemistry being used in such processes. Frankly, I do not complement people and their work easily but you are one of a kind person with some divine dedication to the technology. There are very few people like you and that is a fact. I just spoke with several so-called ceramics, frits and glazes experts and I have to say that they had somewhat limited knowledge while you cover incredibly wide spectrum of all affairs involved in to working with all those great materials.
You have no clue how much this site has inspired and helped me develop my love for ceramics and chemistry.
First i'd love to thank you for all the info you provide on digitalfire. it is an absolutely amazing resource and the way that you explain glaze chemistry/reactions has really helped expand my practice...I crave understanding and wisdom.
I am a high school senior AP ceramics student investigating glaze chemistry and rheology. I spend a great deal of my free time browsing the digitalfire reference library, and would have never developed the passion I have for ceramics chemistry had I not come across it.
This article was very interesting and prompted me to write to thank you for the fantastic resources of DigitalFire and Insight-Live. I'm a fairly new potter---both to the craft and glaze chemistry---and your scientific approach is an absolute treat compared to vague advice often trafficked outside of industry. Furthermore, Insight is a wonderfully powerful tool which has defined how I approach testing and analysis of clay and glazes. It's incredibly refreshing to have information usually buried under the expense and jargon of industry journals and textbooks freely available.
I just wanted to say, thank you! I’m relatively new to pottery, taking a mostly self-taught approach and I’m at the stage where glazing is in my mind. I don’t want to be (and can’t see myself ever) buying glazes from commercial suppliers. I want to learn my craft with glaze as much as I do with my clay preparation and pottery making. I’ve seen “the dragon” and been uninspired by so much of what I find online and to be honest, in many glaze books. It seems more popular to try and present a mass of glaze possibilities than to offer a learning experience beyond being told a glaze needs a melter, a refractory and a glass-maker. Enough to offer a very basic understanding, but nothing upon which to build the understanding that will allow some degree of mastery (or at least influence) of your glaze making. I am so pleased to have found digitalfire.com. You’ve shown me exactly how to approach and understand glazing, giving me the foundation for approach I sought. I was thinking of base glazes and what you’ve shown me about working on from those is fantastic and exactly what I was looking for. To have a reliable base glaze to modify and develop to meet different needs; to understand how to shift a melting point or adjust the surface gloss; to come to know how the mechanisms in a glaze and understanding them gives me the route to creating glazes that realize my intentions - wow! I can’t thank you enough. Rather than having to form a dumb reliance on a book of recipe cards and a bunch of website bookmarks (which I wasn’t wanting to go for) you’ve given me the foundation for a lifelong development and understanding of the glazes I will make, that will become “my” glazes. You have really opened my mind to the whole subject and it doesn’t seem to be a problem that I’m no scientist or chemist. You’ve shared your knowledge in a way that is completely approachable and remarkably easy to understand for someone without any kind of science/chemistry background.
In the 4 decades or so of my academic career, glaze chemistry was one of my favourite subjects, though it was too 'scientific' for most students! Your Insight-Live programme is really super! Thanks once again for all you are doing to keep the discipline alive and kicking.
I'd like to say that I am so thankful for all the work you have done by creating and hosting Digitalfire. It has been an unparalleled resource for me as I learn more and more about glaze chemistry. I really enjoy your articles and photo comments and I'm just fascinated by the well of knowledge that seems to spring forth from them.
Thank you for the amazing information. I couldn’t find an online ceramics class that I could take to learn about clay and glaze chemistry, so I am thankful that I found this. Is there a way I can donate to support the site?
I am a potter of over ten years and am now in this year paying attention to my glazes and what goes in to them. It's been an awesome journey with plenty of "ah ha" moments and exponentially more "what the..." moments. Regardless of what I'm feeling, digital fire is so far the best resource I've encountered. I’ve been going about glazes all wrong, following recipes and stabbing in the dark hoping to find one that Works for me... well, it’s not working! I’m devoting my time to explore glaze chemistry even more than I have and to do this I am convinced I can not go forward efficiently without a test kiln. THANK YOU for these wonderful resources!