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[teacherartexchange] kiln help


From: Mindy Moore (mmoore_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 03 2011 - 02:25:08 PST

For the Skutt kiln questions...

I have a kiln in my storage area next to my classroom. I fire during the school day and have a "fence" that I put up with a sign that says the kiln is running and it's hot. The students have no problem keeping their distance. I also have a hood exhaust fan.

The best way to fire the kiln is:
Turn the kiln on the evening before you want to fire it up. If you have on/off switches, turn on only the bottom switch. If you have graduated switches (1-10), put the bottom switch on 8. Prop the lid open with a post that's about 1" high. Leave one peep hole open, the other closed. Lower the hood. Leave it overnight. This will warm the ware inside, allow fumes to escape (and noone is around when this is happening). In the morning, close the lid, close the peep hole, and begin firing it up. If on/off switches, then proceed with turning on a switch every hour, from the bottom to the top. If graduated switches, turn them up gradually, again from the bottom to the top. My kiln has graduated switches, and I tend to turn them up going from 8, to 5, to 3, to 1. With these switches turning up once/hour is almost too slow, I turn up about every 1/2 hour. It also depends on how densely packed the kiln is, what is in the kiln (some pieces need very slow firing).

You need to get 04 cones if you are firing to that temperature.

Also, it's good to make sight cones. Take a piece of clay and make a platform for 3 cones, standing upright and slightly leaning to the right. Place the cone you are firing to in the center; then place one cone in front of it with a cone that is a slightly lower temperature cone, and a cone behind the center one with a cone that fires to a slightly higher temperature. Place the sight cone in line with one of the peep holes so you can peek in from time to time throughout the firing to see whether the kiln is near temperature. You use the larger Orton cones for sight cones, not the small cones that are placed in the kiln sitter. Without a pyrometer, this is the only way that you can tell what is going on in the kiln, temperature wise.

I hope this is helpful.

Mindy M.
Halifax, Nova Scotia

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