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>>What are the pros and cons of gas vs. electric kilns?
If you are in any setting other than college, Electric is the way to go. They
require minimal maintenance (ie: keep 'em vacuumed out and you're pretty much
good to go.) They only have to be turned up twice in a firing cycle (I fire
mine 2 hours on low, 2 hours on medium, finish on high) and you don't have to
sit with them to watch the cones fall if you have a kiln sitter - the cone
bends and the kiln shuts off. With gas kilns, you have to baby-sit and adjust
the gas or check on 'em every hour during the first part of firing, then every
half hour or less during firing, and you have to adjust for atmosphere and
uneven temperatures, and there can be smoke if you don't know what you're
doing with them. Gas kilns are great in the college setting because students
get involved in the firing process and learn about combustion and heat
transfer and reduction and all the intricacies of firing. It's sort of like
driving a straight shift car - if you learn on one of those, and automatic is
> Also, any recommendations as to a good size?
yes, size matters. <WEG> It depends on how many pots you fire, how often. I
have a relatively small (7cuft) Paragon, (takes a 21" shelf) and I can get 30+
pcs in it, DEPENDING ON SIZE. For school use, I recommendd the oval Olympics,
because you're not as tied into a certain size or shape with them. You can
put a big platter in the center and smaller things on either end of a shelf,
or you can make Loooong things that you wouldn't be able to make with a round
kiln. If you're going with the round kiln, I'd suggest a model comparable to
the Skutt 1027.
> And are some brands better than others?
O yes. I have heard horror stories about some lesser-known brands. I
recommend Skutt, Paragon, and Olympic. Call Bennett Pottery Supply in Florida
to get the best prices in the states on any pottery equipment.
> What are your favorite features on a kiln?
Kiln sitter, oval shaped kilns for reasons stated above, computers are ok, but
not really necessary unless you have to have your kiln in the same room as the
class and want to fire overnight, OR if you're firing crystalline glazes and
want to set a ramp/hold schedule to develop the crystals. Half-shelves
instead of whole ones are a MUST, because you can set shelves at different
heights and not waste space - ie: you have ONE tall bottle form for the entire
kiln load; you can put the bottle on the bottom shelf on one half the kiln but
have shelves at different heights on the other half of the kiln beside the
Lisa Skeen http://www.living-tree.net
Living Tree Pottery & Handmade Soaps
Summerfield, NC USA
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