Mason stain advice

Can y’all share your expertise on how mason stains work? Bought some in NM, and trying to figure out how much to put in my clay. Thanks!

Marty Ray a longtime ceramic artist and former professor at Northlake Community College uses stains almost totally in her work. She mixes them into slip and then covers a darker clay body with slip colored slip and then she cuts through the slip to expose the dark clay underneath. I will see if I can find a link to some of her work online. The other thing I’ve done with stains is just to mix them with water and use them on my modern fossil pieces there I paint them on and then I wiped it off of all but the recessed areas. Many many years ago I didn’t mix some Mason stains into a smooth white clay body to make a small amount of colored clay. I was not trying to do anything large with this but meny mainly using it 2 place on the top of other clay work. Impact this is one of the things that’s on my short list of things I want to work with in ceramics later this year. I’m waiting for those storage bins so I don’t have to all clay in and out. Something about being 68 and not in great physical shape. I would be happy to talk with you and see what advice I can give if no one else has more information than I do. It’s been a good 25 years since I did much wisdom.

The unfun and time consuming answer is test tiles, test tiles and more test tiles! Your result can waver dramatically depending on clay body and even within a few percentage points in the ratios.

In general, dark colors need less than light. For darks, you can usually aim for 5%-10%, for lights 15%-20%. That’s a good starting range. You can eyeball it with some colors but others are very deceptive and get darker in firing. Also, be careful of glazes you put on top of mason stains. You’ll also want to test your glazes. Some glaze compositions have components that will react with your stain and make your beautiful teal swirl bowl a hideous avocado green. I’m still a little bitter about a particular clear, heh. I think zinc was the culprit there.

As for incorporating it into the clay body, I like to make a small indention in my clay, add the stain along with just a few drops of water, mix into a paste and then wedge it into the clay body. Jason just goes straight powder but I think that takes more work to get it evenly blended that way.

Tagging @Liamluu, he’s done a lot of nice stain work.

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I was taught to mix it with white mid fire slip, or to make slip from your clay body. stir in the stain much much darker than you would want. Siv the slip mixture a couple of times. Let this dry until you have a wedgeable clay body. Then wedge.

This will give you a pigment even clay. Roll flat and store in a gallon size Bags. Since the color is concentrated you just slice a small amount off to wedge in clay as needed. If the clay in the bag drys just mist it.
Pouring it on plaster will spreed up the slip to clay. But will discolor the plaster. Other studios I’ve been to had stained blue /green plaster slabs to use.
I’ll have to tell you how I was shown to make agate with it. I’m done typing for the night :t_rex: