Tim Thornton Ceramics - Technical

Thanks for coming to the technical part of my web site.

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What's Here?

This provides content that is primarily of interest to fellow potters.

As the content is all work in progress, whilst most pages are essentially complete, some may be incomplete or have sections with just draft notes, and some may not yet be written up.

Health and Safety

This deals with all of the issues regarding health and safety in the studio.

A significant proportion of the content is given over to the toxicity or otherwise of materials used in the studio, as there is a lot of misleading information here. Hazards of kilns and kiln firing are covered, clothes and protective equipment; and avoiding muscular and other damage to your body.

It doesn't cover any of the issues associated with having other people in your studio, whether staff or people you are teaching. Whilst the same health and safety issues apply, there are often additional regulatory and administrative issues that may need addressing in these circumstances.

Product Safety

This covers producing products that are safe for your customer.

Food safety is a major topic, looking at leaching from clays and glazes, what levels may be toxic, and how it can be minimised. Other issues for tableware include making pieces suitable for ovens, microwaves and dishwashers; crazing; and cutlery marking.

For outdoor pieces, it covers issues such as making glazes weatherproof, and making pieces frost resistant.

General issues such as ensuring pieces are strong and stable are also covered.

Kilns and Firing

The design and use of electric kilns, kiln furniture, firing faults etc.

Electric Lamps

Designing and making electric lamps in any material, with the emphasis on complying with the ISO/EN/GB standard 60958 (used in most of the world except the USA, Canada and Mexico), and UK/US regulatory requirements.


I occasionally do raku firing, and put any notes here.

Wood Firing

Over the past few years I've been doing an increasing amount of wood firing, primarily at the Oxford University kilns. I've found it very hard to obtain technical information on kilns, the firing process, and the reactions involved - much of this seems to be transferred by word of mouth, and with a less technical and analytical approach than I tend to take. This documents my learning of wood fired techniques.

Themes of Life

These are my research notes for a project for an exhibition at Chapel Arts Centre, Andover, for which I made two pieces about the Royal Flying Corps and World War 1. The first casualty of the RFC died nearby, and came from Andover, where he is buried. One of the pieces I made is now at the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, which has a significant collection of WW1 aircraft and equipment.


I post on Instagram and Facebook about ceramic science on Sundays, and this is the backup information - mostly references to relevant papers at present, to be more fully populated as time permits.


I have an interest in uranium, partly because its chemistry enables a rich variety of colours, and partly because of how the public perception of uranium has changed over the years.

Abuses of Power

Some of the work I produce is exploring abuses of power, and these are various notes on the topic that inform some of my pieces.

Functional Design

A few jottings on designing pieces from a functional design viewpoint.

Ask me Anything

From time to time I have run Ask me Anything sessions, and these are their recordings.