Making glazes and troubleshooting their problems is always a challenge. Today there are several glaze and clay calculation software programs available to help us through our many questions. Most programs work on both MAC and PC, and each has a host of options to tell us everything we ever wanted to know about what is in our ceramic recipes. Even with limited knowledge of ceramic materials, it’s still easy to determine at a glance the silica to alumina ratio, thermal expansion, unity and even the exact percentage of every mineral by weight in any given recipe. The programs also act as a great way to store, sort or print recipes so we can compare them with others and assist in making adjustments to tweak our own recipes to fit our specific visual, surface and cone desires. The biggest challenge to using these amazing computer software programs is not about the information we get out of them, but how to get our ceramic information into them! Once we choose a program, how do we navigate the windows and indexes and input our glaze recipe? How do you add an image of a test tile? Are there any short cuts to getting this done? These are typical questions and the process is fairly simple after you see it once.
The biggest challenge to using these amazing computer software programs is not about the in-formation we get out of them, but how to get our ceramic information into them! Once we choose a program, how do we navigate the windows and indexes and input our glaze recipe? How do you add an image of a test tile? Are there any short cuts to getting this done? These are typical questions and the process is fairly simple after you see it once.
We’ll take you step-by-step through the pro-cess from just after you’ve tested a glaze through storing the information and adding a test tile image with the ﬁ red results. Once you’re able
to complete this ﬁrst task, a whole world of information is at your ﬁngertips within the program. I’ll be using a software program created by Richard Burkett called HyperGlaze X
(www.hyperglaze.com). Other glaze software programs can be found by searching the web for “glaze calculation software.”
Before getting to the computer part, you should ﬁrst make the glaze or slip. Glaze calculation software programs are meant to be tools, which provide additional information to results achieved from the good old-fashioned mixing and test ﬁ ring that is done ﬁrst. The software is meant to help us better understand what we do in the studio, not replace it.
For the example used here, I mixed a white slip consisting of four ingredients:
Mix the dry ingredients, slowly add water and blend to a creamy consistency, apply to bisque tile and ﬁ re at cone 04 in an electric kiln.
Making a New Glaze Card
Once you’ve achieved successful results, you’re ready to enter the recipe into HyperGlaze and learn more about the characteristics and properties it possesses. (Note: HyperGlaze terms are in italics.)
When you open HyperGlaze, there is a tall rectangular Index window on the left that has all the different options you can use within the program. A ﬁlled out Glaze Card automatically appears from the glaze index library already stored in the program (ﬁgure 1). To make a new glaze card, go to the Edit menu and select New Card in the drop down menu. Your cursor is automatically positioned in the name box ready for you to enter the recipe name. Use the tab key to move to your next selection, which, in this case, is where the cone for ﬁ ring this recipe is entered.
Tab again and you’ll be in the Color description box. Click the word Color and a drop-down menu with standard choices to auto-ﬁ ll the box will appear. I chose opaque white, but if nothing is suit-able, you can simply type a color description that is more accurate or modify the menu choices (ﬁgure 2). Additional drop-down menus appear for surface descriptions. Slip or engobe was my ﬁ rst choice (ﬁgure 3). Then I selected oxidation and tested from the drop down menus in the next two recipe description boxes (ﬁgure 4).
Now you’re ready to enter the individual materials, and there are two easy ways that this can be done. Using the Index window, you can click on Materials and Materials Index and those two windows will pop up on your desktop (ﬁgure 5). I selected my ﬁrst material (EPK Kaolin) in the Materials Index and this action automatically ﬁlls in the Materials Card. To place this material in the Glaze Card, select Current Glaze and then click on Insert In Recipe.
A small window appears asking where you want to insert the material: choose glaze and it will auto-ﬁ ll into the Glaze Card. After the material is added, hit tab and enter the amount needed in grams. To close unwanted windows and cards, you can click on its name in the Index window and it will go away until needed again. The second way to enter a material is by clicking on the add [+] box at the start of the line on which you want to enter a new ingredient. A pop-up list of common materials appears and you simply click on the one you want (ﬁgure 6). If the material you want isn’t listed there, use the ﬁrst method described using the Materials Index. Continue adding materials and amounts until your recipe is complete (ﬁgure 7). Any colorants, oxides and carbonates should be placed in the Also Add lines below the base glaze. Pop-up menus are also available to use for them as well. As in all software programs, make sure you save often while making changes.
Taking a Look
Once the glaze is fully entered it’s time to see what this program reveals. Go to the Glazes menu and click on Calculate. This will provide a host of information about your glaze at a glance (ﬁgure 8). Things to look for are: recipe percentage, batch recipe, estimated thermal expansion, unity molecular formula (UMF) and the silica to alumina ratio. Use the Comments section to include additional information such as mixing, application and ﬁ ring tips speciﬁc to this glaze. This is also a good place for general information, or, if the glaze is still in a testing stage, you can keep track of all the results like a digital notebook. Below the Comments box is a Possible Health Hazards window that will reveal important safety cautions about this recipe. Another very cool feature for the UMF is the ability to change it from percentages to a color graph by simply clicking on Graph UMF. In the RO2 column, you will also see a bar next to the Si:Al ratio predicting the approximate surface type based on the calculation.
Adding a Picture
The ﬁnal step in adding information to your recipe is adding a digital image of your successful test tile to act as a visual reference. You can either take a digital photo or scan your test tile, then import the image ﬁle to your computer. Use whatever photo editing software you have to crop, resize and save the captured image. The image ﬁle for HyperGlaze should be 300×300 pixels at 72dpi in the jpg format. Save or copy this image into your Glaze Images folder that is located in your HyperGlaze folder (ﬁgure 9 bottom). You also want to make sure that your preferences in HyperGlaze are set to ﬁnd this folder. Select Preferences in the Index window, click the Glazes tab, click the Set Folder button, select the Glaze Image folder, then hit Save in the bottom right corner (ﬁgure 9 top). You will only need to do this step once to set up your glaze folder, and it’ll be your default setting for the future. To view the glaze image simply click on the Picture button in the Glaze Card and select the proper image for the glaze. The image will pop up in a separate window. You only have to select it once for it to be connected to the glaze card and automatically pop up in the future (ﬁgure 10).
Now this is just the tip of the iceberg for this program and what it has to offer. You can follow these same steps to enter a clay body recipe into the Clay index. Once a recipe is entered in the program you can compare and contrast it with other recipes already in the index library, print it out in a variety of options, e-mail it to friends, make custom glaze lists of your favorite recipes or use the Quad-Blender feature for quadraxial and line blends. Also in the Index window is a wonderful resource called the Potter’s Friend with conversion calculators for temperature, size, weight, plaster volume and postage just to name a few. The Help feature is also very thorough, and walks you through program features, as well as common questions.
HyperGlaze is just one of several popular glaze calculation programs available for Macs and PCs. All have the same basic functions but they differ on some of the extras. Before purchasing, visit the web-sites at the right and review some of the features—some even offer free trial periods.
Paul Andrew Wandless is a studio artist, workshop presenter, educator and author. His new book is titled Image Transfer On Clay (Lark Books) and he also co-authored Alternative Kilns and Firing Tech-niques: Raku, Saggar, Pit & Barrel. His website is www.studio3artcompany.com and he can be emailed at
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