Wine Stopper process howto – epoxy or glue?

I was asked after a facebook post “Wondering what type of glue you use? I’m always afraid things won’t adhere to the pottery. And does it work as well ceramic on ceramic?”

It made me realize I’d never discussed my process for attaching ceramic to the metal stoppers. So – here ya go: I hope this will help someone else down the road!

I went through several different epoxies and glues and finally settled on Loctite Hysol E-00CL. (McMaster-Carr has it and the dispenser here: http://www.mcmaster.com/#loctite-e-00cl/=ule32q). I make the ceramic end of my stoppers with a hole up through the bottom that matches a hole in the metal piece. (By the way, this hole also makes glazing easier, and means I can put the stoppers on stilts when firing to keep them from sticking to the shelf or falling over. Win/win/win. :) No glaze on the bottom of the piece, a threaded rod cut to length that’s small enough to slide freely between the two + epoxy = a very strong bond. Its really tricky to get it to all be clean, ventilation is really important, but its worth it – super strong bond, crystal clear. The ceramic will break long before the epoxy does.

Stoppers curing after being epoxied

Stoppers curing after being epoxied

Keeping the join clean… that’s almost another post. I use a mixer nozzle with a fine tip to squeeze epoxy into the hole in the metal end. Just the right amount that when I push the threaded rod in there will be a bit of epoxy squeezed out of the hole. I then do the same on the ceramic end’s hole. The set time for the epoxy is 5 minutes, which gives me just enough time to work on about 4 stoppers in parallel:

  • Hold the metal end upright, add epoxy, insert threaded rod.
  • Add epoxy to a ceramic end, place it hole up.
  • Repeat a few more times, then go back to the first and:
  • Flip ceramic over and slide down onto rod.
  • Immediately clean off any epoxy that’s out of place – I do this with qtips snapped in half and small pieces of index card.
    The desire is to have the epoxy just to the edge of the metal and the ceramic so metal to ceramic is a smooth transition with no seams or edges.
  • Prop up stopper however necessary so there’s no movement while it finally sets. Once the bond is sturdy, it can complete curing over the next 24 hours without any concerns.

I initially tried several glues (including E6000), but found that they didn’t harden inside the piece, or shrank (the epoxy doesn’t shrink at all), or didn’t form a strong enough bond. Epoxy fills voids, dries absolutely solid, and looks just like glass – when done right, if its visible it can actually add something to the piece!

Don’t forget to protect yourself when working with epoxy – there are concerns with both fumes and skin contact. (And obviously you shouldn’t lick the stuff. 😉 I always wear gloves, and work in the bathroom – I can close the door, and have installed an overly-eager fan which sucks air out fast enough that there’s no inhalation issues. (I actually had to enlarge the gap under the door to allow enough airflow. This fan really sucks.)

Have fun! If you have any questions or success, let me know here or on my Facebook Page: Curly Creatures. Enjoy!

Marketing/Social Media thoughts

Trying a few things to drive traffic, specifically to Etsy (since that’s where actual sales happen.)

Using Happy Sunday (https://www.happysundayonetsy.com) to auto-relist two pieces on a schedule. I’ve got one relisting every two hours from 8am-7pm, and one every day at about 11am. For what its worth, I’ve seen a sharp increase in people favoriting the pieces being relisted, as well as increased viewing of other pieces, but so far not an increase in purchasing. (Welcome to Etsy-as-usual.)

Today I switched over to my (Curly Creatures Facebook Page) and liked a bunch of posts in the Pottery Heads Group. (For some reason, I can’t comment or post to the group as a Page? Is that normal? I couldn’t find a way to join either.) In any case, I’ll watch for a spike in traffic due to this.

Later this week, I’ll try posting some links to my Etsy work in the Pottery Heads group, and see what happens there. I feel like especially with some of the more unusual stuff, this could generate some good interest. I’ll also post a shot of a piece or two that the glaze has crawled on, and ask if people like that effect. To me, I don’t usually love it because I recognise it to be a flaw, but it does give an interesting look, and a lot of people seem to like it quite a bit. (And I’ve had a few pieces that I actually did like it on, so…)

Have online strategies that have worked well for you? Tell me about them!

Magnets and clay. Magnetic pottery?

Today I asked this question on Facebook in pottery heads and on the Curly Creatures Page, and it has been getting a fair amount of discussion in both spots:

“Has anyone ever tried firing a piece with a magnet *inside* it? I’m wondering if I could put a strong magnet (rare earth or ceramic) inside a void in a piece and seal it in (maybe with an air hole, maybe not.) Allowing some space around it should keep shrinkage rates from being an issue. I believe most/all magnets have a melt point below the cone 6 glazing temp, but wondering if it could be remagnetized (or would need to be) afterwards.

Thoughts?”

Since there’s so much interest, I thought I’d keep the general gist here for posterity. A list of thoughts:

  • It looks like clay firing temps are higher than a magnet can handle intact. There’s a table of curie temps here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curie_temperature and the highest temp is only 1043F. Cone 6 can hit 2300F, but if you low-temp fire you might get away with it.
  • Changing to low fire process isn’t a great option for me, because the studio is set up for cone 07 bisque, cone 6 glaze. Would also require retesting clay bodies, new glazes, etc… for some, this could be an option that would allow using normal magnets and not having to magnetize.
  • Naturally, any magnets embedded should have enough space around them to allow shrinkage of the clay body.
  • Possibly magnetize after the fact with something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Wiha-40010-Magnetizer-or-Demagnetizer/dp/B00018AONE (although I’m guessing a powered tool would be better)
  • How about adding iron filings to the clay body and magnetizing it when the piece is finished? This clearly wouldn’t have the strength of a rare-earth magnet, but could work. (Can you remagnetize a rare-earth or ceramic magnet?) Also, attention would need to be paid to shrinkage – the clay body with all the ferrite would shrink less, probably glaze differently, etc…
  • Another possibility: after a first glaze firing, leave a hole large enough to accept ferric material filings – pour in, glaze fire again. This is an option, but would also really define the form of the final piece, since any holes for adding the metal would need to be able to face up during firing.
  • A sheet (or pieces) of metal that magnets will stick to could be embedded instead of a magnet. A few considerations:
    • This decreases the thickness of clay that can be between the pieces needing to stick together. Two magnets obviously have higher attraction at further distance than one and metal, and gauss goes as the square of distance. With fairly heavy pieces, this doesn’t give a lot of leeway.
    • If the metal melts below 2150F, in order to not break the piece it would need to either: not absorb/penetrate an open clay body, or expand/shrink at the same rate as the clay.
  • Raku firing: lower temp (1470F-1830F) that’s still beyond the Curie point of every magnet I’ve found so far, although on the lower end just barely past cobalt’s 1400F…
  • Add magnets after the fact, and disguise the spot. Considerations:
    • With no part of the structure over the magnets, the glue holding them in needs to be strong.
    • You can’t glaze over the spot (even cone 012 is 1623F – more than 200F over cobalt), so maybe a small glazed plug, and glossy epoxy. That’d be hard to get right, given warping of the plug and epoxy’s trickiness…
    • Epoxy or glue to level with the glazed clay around it, cleaned up so the seam is smooth, could get a layer of gold leaf and you wouldn’t know there was anything under it. However, I’m not sure how gold leaf would handle repeated impacts/abrasions from the opposite piece, so it would need to be protected more than usual. (Another layer of epoxy?)

I know I could just make the piece with voids and glue the magnets in, but I was hoping to hide the “how” for this work. So far I haven’t had a chance to try this, but I’ll come back with the results of any experiments, so Watch This Space.