I had the pleasure to chat yesterday with Dr. Bill Carty from Alfred University about the story of the alumina/hematite hexagons that I learned from the Kusano et al. paper, which we’ve been exploring here in the microMondays blog posts.  Bill was most surprised by the part about the alumina hexagons crystallizing out of the melt, as the formation of only mullite crystals would be expected in the cooling of a […]

Where do you currently live/work? I’m a Graduate Student and Teaching Assistant at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. What do you like most about your job? OR  What do you like most about where you live? As a Canadian, I never imagined that I would be living in the deep south! It’s obviously drastically different from where I grew up (people, politics, weather etc.) but ultimately I love […]

Today’s featured image is a “small” image in that it is only 256×256 pixels, but it conveys a lot of information!  Last week we discussed how the EDS (Energy-Dispersive Spectroscopy) tool on an electron microscope can provide information on not only the topography but the elemental composition of microscopic features on a ceramic surface, but we noted that the spatial resolution of this technique is insufficient to provide strong evidence […]

Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students’ Ceramics Professors, As you know being a full-time student often prohibits one’s ability to have a full-time job. And, as professors we often hear students who have great ideas, but do not know how to fund them.   The question of the moment . . . Where can students find the resources to support their artistic endeavors? What if I were to tell you there was money […]

Where do you currently live/work? Toquerville, Utah but will be moving soon to Cedar City, just up the road closer to where I teach, Southern Utah University. What do you like most about your job? OR  What do you like most about where you live? The landscape and clear skies. We live near Zion National Park and other desert Red Rock landscapes and in just a few minutes you can […]

If it weren’t for ceramics, Peter Morgan would travel down the path of science, and study birds.  More specifically, the Harlequin Duck.  Peter is also a Minnesota Twins fan, as was evident with him wearing a Twin Cities cap during our interview.  Peter isn’t an artist to stay in one particular method of creation (press mold, slip cast, coiling, etc.).  Peter Morgan is one of NCECA’s Emerging Artist for 2016, […]

Attention All Students: The deadline is fast approaching for you to submit your application for both the Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship, and the NCECA Graduate Student Fellowship! Successful undergraduate applicants will be awarded $1,800 for use towards their proposed research project, and successful graduate applicants $2,000 (funds may not be put towards payment of tuition).  Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to receive funding to pursue your research. Applications for […]

Today’s featured image (full version below) shows four versions of a close-up view of one of the hexagonal alumina crystals we’ve been investigating over the past few weeks in microMondays.  The upper-left version of the image is what you see in the standard SEM backscattered-electron view, while the other three are created using a special tool on the electron microscope called an energy dispersing spectrometer (EDS).  The EDS tool makes […]

What do you get when you cross a brewer, a failed high school teacher, and a former advisor to Napoleon?  Either the setup for a really bad joke, OR one of the most misunderstood yet vitally important tools in the ceramics studio, the electric kiln.  Watch the “clay replay” video of David Sturm’s presentation from our 2016 conference and learn how and why electric kilns work, what the parts do, and what […]

Over the years NCECA has been fortunate that there have been so many smart and caring individuals who have worked diligently to make our organization what it is today.  But it is that time again for some new volunteers to step forward and help advance NCECA’s mission and goals. It’s an incredible time as we have just taken our birthday hats off after celebrating our 50th anniversary in KC, and we’re […]

This week’s featured image is a Scanning Electron Micrograph of another surface area from the “hexagons” sample we have been profiling since our first microMondays blog post.  In this image we see a number of small crystals all laying flat on the ceramic surface like tiny geometric tiles.  Some appear to be growing into each other, or even on top of one another.  It’s interesting to wonder whether features like this […]

Our images this week show a zoomed-out view of the region of the ceramic sample containing the mullite “thicket” from last week.  I am often struck by the visual similarities between SEM images, which show very small patches of a fired ceramic surface, and aerial photographs of geographic landscape.  Cracks appear like roads or fissures in the ground; protruding crystals resemble hills, mountains, or volcanoes.  Of course, in a very rough sense, […]

This week we feature another SEM image of the etched, fired ceramic surface we’ve been examining the past few weeks.  This view looks into a small pit/cavity with an overgrowth of plate-like crystals jumbled together with needle-like (acicular) crystals.  The needles are most likely composed of mullite, also known as porcelainite, an aluminosilicate material found commonly in fired ceramics.  A scale bar of one micron (one thousandth of a millimeter) is shown in the […]

Last week we introduced the technique of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and posted an electron micrograph (SEM image) of a hexagonal alumina/hematite crystal formed in a “flashing” region on the surface of a ceramic vessel from an atmospheric firing.  We noted that SEM is capable of capturing images with resolution much finer than the limit of optical microscopy, which is roughly a few hundred nanometers.  In the gallery of images below, […]