[Clayart] firing electric kilns

mel jacobson melpots at mail.com
Fri Apr 1 15:44:39 UTC 2022

knowing and understanding your own kiln and having confidence
in it is essential to perfectly fired pots.

if your kiln is in order, it will fire in X time, to X cone.
It should take almost the same time, over and over.  if it is lagging
behind, then there is something wrong.  fix it.

on the kiln sitter, there is a small timer. use it every time.  i set mine for
about a half hour extra time.  so, my small kiln fires glaze in about 4.5 hours.
i set the timer for 5 hours.  then memorize..."there is no fail safe.  only your own
eyes". i do not leave my kilns running without me there. never.

about every six or eight firings i clean with very fine emery paper the weight
and claw. i clean the cone holder too.

my newer big paragon kiln has a 220 low amp plug in on the side of the box.
i have an extension cord from that plug to my studio. When the kiln is running
that light is on.  i use a standard 220 light bulb. IF THE LIGHT IS ON, THE KILN IS ON.

at hopkins high i had a 220 light bulb above my desk. Light is on, kiln is on.
I could leave school and the janitor knew if that light was on...shut off the
main power to the kilns.  It was a sure thing. my office lights are off, if that
bulb was lit...something wrong.  if the janitor failed to turn things off, the
janitorial department had to pay for repairs.  he cleaned my room every night at 6.
we did not have problems.

orton tells me that cones can age. so, don't use that box of cones from 1958.

if you own a newish controller kiln it does not mean you can just walk away from the
kiln.  remember, "planes crash".  kilns do not shut down properly all the time.

safety cones work well. your eyes work well. being near the kiln works well.

my large electric has a controller. it is screwed to a 4x4 post in the room. the 220
box is next to it. i can switch during a firing from cone sitter to controller by
unplugging and changing things. i pick the system i am going to use. and often put
a cone in the sitter, and use the controller just to test things.

I have a analog pyrometer on the kiln. there is a digital pyrometer on the shelf.
I have a 60 amp breaker painted red. i have small fans running, and the kilns have
their own room. go in and check, and get out.

it is so easy to be safe, and have your brain plugged in too.

website: www.melpots.com

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