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Karen B

Going Gas, Need Some Direction

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Hi, so it's been awhile since I've been here on this forum. We've empty nested and moved to NJ from Mass. My studio contents have been in storage for the last 7 months. In a few weeks, I will have a house and a studio again! I have been taking classes at TASOC in Demarest to stay sane. I fell hard for the reduction look there. Since I sold my electric kiln before we moved, I am in need of a new kiln and plan to buy a gas kiln and fire to cone 6.

 

What I know:

There is a natural gas line right near the garage wall where I will set up (indoors). 

I will need the right size fitting to the kiln for the gas.

There is a high window that I can vent out of.

I probably will get a Bailey....

 

OK, that's it! ha ha not much.

 

Questions:

 

-Can I bisque in the gas kiln?

-How much of the time during the firing do I need to be doing something?

-Will my cone 6 electric glazes look fabulous fired in reduction?

-Things to consider when shopping for the kiln? 

-Please recommend a good step by step book for firing with gas and reducing.

-I'd love to take a workshop but haven't seen anything.... have you?

-What do I need to know?

Thank you for any help!

Karen

 

post-2655-0-68046500-1470862505_thumb.jpg

 

Come see the reduction work I've done (but not fired myself) at Peter's Valley Craft Show Sept 24th and 25th!

 

 

post-2655-0-68046500-1470862505_thumb.jpg

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Hi, so it's been awhile since I've been here on this forum. We've empty nested and moved to NJ from Mass. My studio contents have been in storage for the last 7 months. In a few weeks, I will have a house and a studio again! I have been taking classes at TASOC in Demarest to stay sane. I fell hard for the reduction look there. Since I sold my electric kiln before we moved, I am in need of a new kiln and plan to buy a gas kiln and fire to cone 6.

 

What I know:

There is a natural gas line right near the garage wall where I will set up (indoors). 

I will need the right size fitting to the kiln for the gas.

There is a high window that I can vent out of.

I probably will get a Bailey....

 

OK, that's it! ha ha not much.

 

Questions:

 

-Can I bisque in the gas kiln?

-How much of the time during the firing do I need to be doing something?

-Will my cone 6 electric glazes look fabulous fired in reduction?

-Things to consider when shopping for the kiln? 

-Please recommend a good step by step book for firing with gas and reducing.

-I'd love to take a workshop but haven't seen anything.... have you?

-What do I need to know?

Thank you for any help!

Karen

 

attachicon.gif5Borg Teapot.JPG

 

Come see the reduction work I've done (but not fired myself) at Peter's Valley Craft Show Sept 24th and 25th!

 

You need to know the available pressure and VOLUME of gas that the gas pipe line and the meter leading to your property will accommodate.  The meter can be easily changed... the pipe cannot.  If you need more capacity than the pipe can handle... it is typically EXPENSIVE to get that kind of upgrade run.  You usually also cannot get the pressure changed easily if at all.  Your first step...... call the gas company.  THAT will tell you a lot about what the kiln CAN be.

 

Second......... check on your town's zoning and home business laws.  Make sure that you can actually do this.  If you sell your work... you are a business...even if you are not planning on selling out of that space.  This concept also leads to..........

 

Third, .....research your homeowners insurance situation.  Many will allow an electric kiln.. but not a gas kiln.  Some will allow an electric kiln or maybe a gas kiln for a hobby....... but not for a business.  Don't screw this one up.  You can maybe insure the whole property on business insurance... but that gets EXPENSIVE compared to the typical homeowners policy.

 

You are likely going to run into a lot of permitting and fire code stuff that you will NOT have with an electric kiln.  The Bailey and Geil units are AGA listed appliances... so that will help some.  Get to know the local building inspector and the local fire marshal.

 

You are probably not going to be able to vent out of that window.

 

 

-Can I bisque in the gas kiln?     Yes... remember everyone bisqued in wood and oil and then gas kilns before there were electrics.  In fact if you have good burners.. the potential for excess air is BETTER when bisquing in a fuel fired kiln than a static electric kiln... or even one with a downdraft vent.  The reason that electric kilns became popular for bisquing is computerized controllers.  They made what most consider a "drudge" firing simple.

 

-How much of the time during the firing do I need to be doing something?       You will need to attend to it frequently.... usually at LEAST every hour...for at least checking stuff like rate of climb and atmosphere and evenness.  Unlike the (bad) practice that so many do with computerized electric bisque firings (leave the kiln totally alone) .....you cannot do that with a fuel fired kiln.

 

-Will my cone 6 electric glazes look fabulous fired in reduction?        No way to tell this....every glaze is different.  And remember the "look" of reduction fire has more to do with the slow cooling of larger fuel fired kilns than the typical poorly insulated, low thermal mass electrics most potters use.  If you've been firing down in the past... you'll see some differences.

 

-Things to consider when shopping for the kiln?          The same consideration that went into your choices for an electric kiln in a lot of ways.  Both Bailey and Geil make good kilns.  The Blauu is the best on the market... but the price tag will kill you.

 

-Please recommend a good step by step book for firing with gas and reducing.      Unfortunately there is none.  "Gas Kiln Firing" by W. Ritchie used to be just OK.  Out of print now.  Olsen's "The Kiln Book" is certainly a helpful resource.  As is most any general ceramics book.  Best bet.... find someone to fire with and learn from them.

 

-I'd love to take a workshop but haven't seen anything.... have you?       If available, this is usually part of an undergrad curriculum in a college.  We take "special students" in my kiln (and glaze chem) classes.  Other institutions might also.  It is not often done in a short workshop setting... requires time and multiple firings to really learn much.

 

-What do I need to know?       Wow...... tons of stuff. Much too long to go into here... plus reading text and even looking at pictures is NOT the way to learn this stuff.  Find a local mentor.

 

best,

 

.................john

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Yep, you're getting into a very complicated situation. Start with the gas company and the local zoning rules before you even begin looking at kilns. Business vs. hobby is a big deal, and will dictate much of what you can and cannot do.  Where I live a gas kiln is out of the question either way. Venting a gas kiln is much more complicated than venting an electric kiln, and going out the window will likely not work. You'll either need to go out the roof with a natural draft vent, or out the wall with a powered vent. A vent hood system can cost thousands.

 

There's a lot you can do in oxidation, including much of what you can do in reduction. The simplicity and low cost of setting up and electric kiln may be worth it. You should also check into firing costs. Around here it's a lot cheaper to fire electric.

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The attached chart provides the maximum capacity you can expect to pass through a given steel lines at various length. If you know the maximum cfm required for the rated temperature of the kiln you are planning to use check the chart to see the diameter line needed to handle the volume for standard residential pressures for the distance from the meter to the burners on the kiln.

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a potter i knew put her gas kiln just outside her house on a concrete pad with a smallish roof over it.  it looked like a small porch and that allowed her to meet a lot of the regulations imposed by her city inspector.

 

the kiln looked exactly like an electric kiln and was the same size as one of the large ten sided electric kilns so it was manageable without too much trouble.  

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the kiln looked exactly like an electric kiln and was the same size as one of the large ten sided electric kilns so it was manageable without too much trouble.  

 

Unfortunately those types of kilns are not great for reliable results.  They have lots of issues.  If it is that or nothing....... well...... it is a "solution".  But personally if it was that or an electric kiln for my choices... I'd go for a Fredrickson front loader electric and fire electric.  Not worth the aggravation with those types of gas kilns.   I've done consulting work for lots of folks trying to get those updraft hexagonal "looks like an electric kiln" gas kilns to perform reasonably.

 

For a gas kiln.... commercial downdraft or site built (by someone who knows what they are doing) any-type-of-draft.

 

Karen,/.... call and talk to Jim Bailey.  Nice guy and very knowledgeable. He can help you explore options.

 

best,

 

..................john

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i would call it a hobby and build a pad outside and shed the kiln. It will be easier for you on inspection on gas lines.

The above poster should give you enough info.

do not buy a trash can gas kiln (looks like an electric) for all the reasons John said

Get a real downdraft gas kiln with an arch.

Learning to use it will take some time but the results will be worth it.

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Thank you John, Neil, Mags, 1515, Oldlady, and Marc, from the bottom of my heart for your thoughtful answers! I will consider the information, read the material and talk to the people you have suggested. 

Mostly I will slow down and make sure I do it right. 

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think hard, it is a BIG, BIG change.  long learning curve, many pitfalls but you will know if you want to do it.  try finding a potter nearby who has a gas kiln and visit on firing days.

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You all love gas after you master it. 

 

 

Ah..... but beware the Dark Side.  WOOD firing!  MMmmmmuuuuhhhhhhaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  Electric leads to gas.  And gas leads to soda and salt.  And salt and soda lead to wood.  Take over your life, it will.

 

best,

 

.........................john

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Are you going to fire to ^6 reduction? Is saves a lot of gas and glazes look the same as stoneware. At least mine did. They are in Bailey's Oriental Glazes. 

Tenmoku, Ohata red, celadons, reduction red, and more. I am happy to send you 20 years worth of glazes from when I was teaching in Montana at MSU-B. 

 

Marcia

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You all love gas after you master it. 

 

 

Ah..... but beware the Dark Side.  WOOD firing!  MMmmmmuuuuhhhhhhaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  Electric leads to gas.  And gas leads to soda and salt.  And salt and soda lead to wood.  Take over your life, it will.

 

best,

 

.........................john

 

 

Yes, John, I have already heard the siren call of Salt! But one step at a time for me! Marc your positive mindset is very much in line with mine, Thank you.

Karen

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Agree with everything I've read here.

As a gas firing potter I'll add some thoughts...

 

First of all find a kiln (manufacturer)Example : Geil Kilns that supplies everything including auto-light, auto-gas shut-off, and the required gas pressure/BTU for the unit you can afford for the location.

An auto-programmable kiln that comes complete will take some of the guesswork out of your learning curve.

Kilns are expensive, but the more feature you have, the better. I cheaper Olympic updraft sounds great, but you'll pull your hair out trying to get it to fire evenly and

 

Propane or natural gas?

If you're in a 'neighborhood' again, you'll need to know your water column gas pressure. The Gas Company will know.

If you haven't got it or can't get what you need, it's a moot point.

Only option is propane, or faggeadboudit and do the e-lectricity again.

 

Second - Location, as mentioned already, codes. Where is it going? Are you out in the country on a farm, or in the 'burbs?

Rural areas are great, and you can have a propane tank. Urban spaces, maybe not, unless you have a couple acres.You mentioned a building. Does it have very high ceilings?

 

Venting it out a window may be doable, but an inside gas kiln almost always needs a hood.

Best set up is find the kiln builder you want that makes the hoods too.

 

Otherwise, plan to pour a slab or cinder block base and put that puppy outside, then build a simple roof for it.

Gas kilns give off fumes and gas kilns put off heat.

Really really good ones are pretty good at keeping this all contained.

But it's all gotta be a deal that's not gonna P.O. the neighbors.

 

Good tools cost the bucks, but hey, it's merely money ;)

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