Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do "A", and "B" should happen...

My experience with firing kilns is limited. The first time I fired a kiln, it was the 40 cu.ft. gas kiln at our old studio. The only type of firing that I did was the glaze firing, as the bisque required a better understanding of how that monster worked. I only ever ended up firing that kiln a few times before we moved, and then all that learning was for naught, as we moved to firing to ^6 electric. Now, I have fired the electric kilns many times, and I have done bisque, glaze and on glaze (ie: lustre) loads. However, because they are computer controlled, I usually just load ‘em up, turn ‘em on, and go home for the night. They usually take 15-19 hours to fire a glaze, depending on how densely packed. On Monday, I fired both kilns at the same time, and they were both glaze loads. I went to the studio on Tuesday at lunch time to check on them, and they were both still firing away, but that is not unnatural. I returned at about 5pm that evening and to my surprise, one kiln had turned off properly, but the other one was still chugging away, and had not reached temperature yet. I freaked out. That kiln had been on for 19.5 hours and was still not to temp. I turned it off, then I said to myself, hold on....turn it back on, see how far it needs to go, call my potter friend Susan and see what she has to say about this. Susan has been potting/sculpting for many more years than I and she worked at Ceramics Canada for 20+ years and has a brain full of knowledge. She talked me down from the ledge, advised me to let it go for a bit longer, watch the colour in the peep hole etc.  I ended up letting it go until it was as close to temp as I could let it go before I had to go home for the night. It was only about 5 or 6 degrees away from ^6 at that point (It ended up firing for approximately 24 hours (crazy, I know). I went back to the studio today at noon to check that the inside of the kiln was not a hardened lump of melted glaze. Everything was fine, at least as far as I could tell by only seeing the top shelf results. I have a feeling that this kiln did not fire as quickly due to the fact that I had loaded it quite full, and I know that the elements are getting old, and need replacing, and the thermocouple might need swapping out too.

So, when you do “A”, and the “B” that is supposed to happen, doesn’t, don’t freak out. It’s all just one big learn’in experience.

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