Well, I removed all the bisque ware from the kiln on Sunday and it turned out very nice. The kiln ran on schedule and I didn’t have any problems. Today, I am firing a load of glazed pieces, and this is the first time the new elements will go above 1800 F (it will go to 2200 F). Should be a good test. I have over sixty pieces glaze and ready to fire, so probably three full kilns to go.
There are a few Empty Bowls pieces in here, as well as some other pieces I had laying around from a few months back. This firing should show me if the kiln will fire the same as it used to. I may have to make a few tweaks to the firing schedule. I’ve noticed already that it acts a bit differently now than before – mainly because of the switches. The switches on my kiln go from 0-100, so you have a lot of flexibility for how much power you put to the elements. On the old switches, at the low end the kiln would still go up very fast. On these new switches, the kiln heats up much slower at the low end. I usually have to turn it up a bit to get it to heat up, especially at the beginning. Once I turn the switches to 40 or so, the kiln will really start to cruise like the old switches. It should just take a little bit of getting used to.
I hope to get some photos up as soon as I get the kiln unloaded. I also hope to have some news posted regarding new classes for this fall, so keep an eye out!
I was contacted about a month ago to help with an Empty Bowls project that will be happening in Harmony at the end of the year. I won’t have to do any planning for it but I did volunteer to make a few bowls for the event. For those that don’t know, Empty Bowls is, “a grassroots effort to raise money and awareness in an effort to end hunger and food insecurity.” The event is being sponsored by a church in Harmony and I believe the proceeds are going towards the food shelf, but I could be mistaken. Attendees get to choose a bowl and are served a simple meal, and get to take the bowl home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.
I will be making a few bowls, and I know they have talked to some other potters in the area as well. I spent an evening throwing and altering a group of bowls for the project. The pieces are now dry and are in the kiln as I write this. I’m excited to try something like this and had a lot of fun making a bunch of (hopefully) very different bowls. It gives me a good excuse to try some different ideas.
This is the first ‘real’ firing of the kiln with the new elements and switches. Hopefully the kiln doesn’t explode in a blaze of glory – actually, if it has to go, that is the way to do it. But I’m just not ready to say goodbye. I’m hoping to do the first glaze firing on Sunday while working in the studio, as long as there are no unexpectedness happenings – mainly, my wife going into labor. Should be a great weekend!
Well, the kiln is back up and running! After the little hiccup with a couple of elements not working, I finally got the new parts and have replaced them in the kiln. I just finished the initial test firing and everything looks hunky-dory!
When I found out a couple elements stopped working, I decided to replace all the elements and the switches in the kiln. I figured they haven’t even been looked at in the entire life of the kiln and it was overdue on maintenance. I was pleased to find parts were fairly cheap and easy to put it. The new elements went in pretty easily, although the bottom element get a bit tricky when you don’t have a lot of arm length (like me).
The switches were also very easy to replace – just unplug the old ones and insert the new ones. It took a little adjustment to get the dials on the front of the kiln to line up, but I think I got them set pretty well.
I replaced the kiln sitter and fired up the kiln tonight, and everything works like new! The kiln smoked a bit at the beginning, burning of some oils and dust, but after that ran like normal. The kiln needed to be fired empty to cone 05 (1900 degrees F) to allow the elements to oxidize to protect them from the gases released from firing pieces. Now that I have done that, I am ready to start working on the backlog of pieces ready to be fired. Woowheeee!
Well, I’ve found that I just don’t have as much time to do pottery from May through July. Which is fine, since I have plenty of things going on during the summer but have some time to fill the rest of the year. I’ve been trying to fire some glazed pieces, but a week ago I fired the kiln and it took twice as long to fire.
I figured that was a bad sign when it was 90 degrees outside.
It turns out that, of the six heating elements in my Cress kiln, 3 work fine, 2 work ok, and one doesn’t work at all. Since the kiln is 30 years old, I decided it was time to replace the coils and the switches. So, they have been ordered and all firings are on hold until I get a chance to replace everything.
I hope to post some photos of the replacement process and be up and running again very soon!