[Clayart] electrics, hint/story

ksavino at buckeye-express.com ksavino at buckeye-express.com
Sat Jan 23 16:05:16 EST 2016


Girls weren't allowed to take shop class when I was in school, so I had
to learn a lot of stuff on my own. I am good with power tools, but was
always afraid to mess with electricity. 

So I learned a few things. 

1.) Mel suggested that whenever we open a box of wires (kiln controller,
element hookups, relays, whatever bright colored spaghetti is in a
thing's brain) -- get out your cell phone and take a picture. I do it at
several steps in the process. I always refer back when it's time to put
things back together. 

2.) I use painter's tape and a sharpie to put a little tag on every
wire, and the place the wire is supposed to connect. A goes to a, b goes
to b, etc. 

3.) Kiln companies are used to dealing with end users who are not
electricians. This includes art teachers who do a clay session once a
year, and lots of potters who know the clay but not necessarily the
inner workings of the equipment. The company's success depends on being
able to put somebody on the phone who can walk you through the process
of most required maintenance tasks. I have worked at places with three
different kinds of kilns, and worked with three different companies to
get my questions answered -- all willing, available, helpful and polite.

You don't have to be an expert, and I generally begin the conversation
with "feel free to talk to me like I'm in fourth grade, ok"? but you do
have to a) not weenie out, throw your hands in the air and decide you
can't do it, and b) print out a schematic, look at the FAQs on the
website and clayart, and/or RTFM so you at least know what the parts are

I don't judge the folks who upgrade to new equipment rather than
maintain the old, but I'm happy to take the old ones off their hands for
cheap or free, and fix them up to use myself. I sometimes get calls from
local folks who have heard I "fix" kilns, but I don't -- I'm not an
electrician and I'm not going to mess with a kiln in a public school or
somebody's basement. There's not enough liability insurance in all the
world. I do give them the advice I listed above, then come over and
drink their coffee and help while they figure it out themselves. 


Kelly in Ohio 

who has a nice fridge-freezer with water and ice in the door, purchased
for a song because the first owner used the wrong light bulb inside and
it melted the socket and stuck there. Not a hard fix. I am sure they are
as happy with their new one as I am with their old one. 

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