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[teacherartexchange] firing a kiln 101

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From: Randy Menninghaus (india99_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Oct 27 2005 - 03:19:54 PDT


Well I KNEW nothing. I got our kiln in a bid order. I called in a favor
from a local art teacher friend. So first locate the nearest public school
teacher with a kiln. Second, is it a kiln that is old, manual or new, with
a program able computer. If it is a program able one, read the book. No
book do a net search for the instructions. My kiln is a manual with a kin
sitter on the side.
we use cone 05 clay.
My first firing I didn't even know about pushing the kiln sitter button in
to start every thing and I stood looking at the kiln wondering what I did
wrong for about an hour. Our kiln is hexagon an L and L . For a bisque
fire my friend positioned the legs(posts) for the second shelf in first.
Checked that it balanced than took second shelf out and left the
legs(posts) in. My friend stacked unglazed pottery on top of others lots of
on bottom allow as you position air to circulate evenly around the bowls or
items. So bowls up hollow items so air can get in.
than with both hands gently ease the next shelf in. Sense that it is
balanced. Starting from the center continue to add stuff. If you think you
need a third shelf position the leg or posts first . place items on the
shelf sensing that you keep it balanced. ANY really heavy suspect items
put aside. Any clunker get fired separately in my book , and if I think it
will blow up, I may not fire it for a while, We inserted the cone 05
triangle thingie(sorry the actual name escapes me) into kiln sitter in side
balanced it, reach out and set the kiln sitter in position and press the
button. Close the lid, Set all know on low, Turn the manual power on. We
do two hours on low, two on medium, than high until the sifter drops. We
always check back to make sure the sitter turns it off.
We have three plug holes. I leave one open at the bottom until we turn to
high, This is supposed to help moisture leave the kiln. We also make a
good luck item to place on the kiln. A ritual but one the kids enjoy.
Having completely DRY un fired items is essential. Touching a piece to your
check. If it feels cold, it probably still has water in it.

When I went to haystack I learned some quick drying techniques. we have a
metal shelf rather near the kiln and we rotate items closest to the kiln
when it fires, and even place some items on the kiln top . Our kiln leaks a
bit of heat so these items speed dry.

a Slow soak start with the lid a bit ajar and only the bottom ring on is is
another speed dry method method but I suggest you get comfortable with your
kiln first.

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