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Drying Cabinet Idea

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We've been cutting things close, the last piece I threw and trimmed Sunday. I knew it wouldn't make it into our planned bisque firing on Monday.

 

Then I had an idea, I dry roughed out wooden bowls in a drying cabinet, some woodturners call it a kiln but its really more like a dehumidifier. I call it a supersized Easy-Bake Oven

 

Its a metal storage cabinet with wooded slats for shelves, a 100 watt bulb on the bottom and a small computer fan on top to exhaust the humidity. Wood needs to dry a lot slower than clay, so I added a 60w bulb then placed in the soft leather hard pot.

 

Monday morning it was bone dry and when we got to the studio it was the last piece to be placed in the kiln (this is the part where not knowing better is bliss).

 

This morning when we opened the kiln I was pleased to find that it was still intact.

 

I'm sure there are similar techniques that the pros know of, but I was so tickled that it worked I just had to share.

 

 

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thank you for the idea.  the studio i have in florida is too far from the house for me to take a pot inside to use my oven to dry it.  this might work very well for the things i am making for the empty bowl supper in march.   the clay is something i have never used before and it seems to take forever to get really dry.  since i am not firing these bowls myself, i do not want to risk taking them to the clay center and leaving them on the "to bisque" shelf.  thanks again

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The college I went to had the ceramic program located in a old football locker under the seating of a stadium built in 1880.  It had no heat, air and none of the windows were the kind you could open.  In the winter we would wrap a plastic tarp around a shelving unit and put a 100 watt bulb and a fan, in nice weather we would just put them on the stadium benches.    Denice

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To keep things dampish and drying verrrrrrry slowly during our hot weather I hang a shower curtain liner across the front of the metal file cabinet I use as a drying shelf. During the winter, when things are cold and damp, I do the same, except I then place an old blowdryer on low inside and use an old cotton sheet instead of the shower curtain. Bonus is it also warms my studio enough to work in!

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One of the great things about living in the desert - I can throw a bowl, put it outside for a couple of hours, trim it, place it outside again and it should be bone dry if not by evening, certainly by the next morning.  I'm spoiled.

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my drying cabinet is a large south facing window with shelves. Of course, it only works well if its not raining. We sometimes set stuff on a not too hot cooling bisque kiln or outside if its sunny.  I do find that porcelain figures have to dry slowly and not go directly into the window on a sunny day or they crack. I live in the pacific northwest so too hot is not usually a problem. 

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Sometimes i think it would be really neat to have things dry more quickly, but I reckon on the whole I'm happy with my slow drying garagio, no heat and no draughts.

 

I can throw pots and leave them uncovered for 10 days or more before they're dry enough to trim. It gives me the best chance to catch them at the right time for trimming/attaching handles etc.

 

I've not tried, but I reckon sometimes I could put them back on the wheel after a week and pull another lift.

 

If I need to speed them up they go outside if it's breezy and in the airing cupboard if it's not.

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i use my home oven if i have something i need to include in a firing.  the lowest setting is 170 and that is perfect to turn a wet, grey pot into a pure white dry pot.

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oven works in half an hour or so.  then i can take the piece out of the oven, clean up any seams with a sponge, spray glaze on it and put it in the kiln for cone 6 firing with everything else.  the preheat program on the kiln will allow all the pots to get warm, to over 200 degrees, over about 2 hours, then the real firing begins automatically.  allows me to fire anything, glazed greenware, bisque with glaze, reglazing anything without enough color or an ugly color i cover with something else.  i really love the controller.  helps this old birdbrain so much because i do not have to set a timer and run to turn up switches.

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Most people say to slowly and evenly dry the work, so no cracks will appear. I am new into ceramics and I find it interesting that you discuss about quickly drying the objects. I am making bonsai pots and if I am not careful when drying , I am having cracks. 

What do you think about the drying cabinets that can be found on ceramic shops? Is it worth buying one? The heat can be modified but will the clay objects dry evenly, fast, and without cracks? 

Thank you.

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You can make your own drying cabinet with the heat of a light bulb if its well insulated.I use my gas heater in pot shop to dry whole shop and all the contents. It's drying painted wood on X-mas day as the studio is empty of all clay work right now.

Edited by Mark C.

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Sometimes the Christmas rush is just that...a rush. Last month I made 13 bowls and had to dry, bisque, and glaze fire them in 2 weeks. Since it has been a little cold and wet around here and I have my fireplace going, I thought I'd try an experiment. In my studio, I ran a fan to help get the pots leather hard in about 1 and a half days for trimming. Then I continued with the fan for another day before I brought them into the house to finish drying, hopefully without cracks. I placed them around the sides of the fireplace and rotated them on a regular basis. They were dry in 2 days without cracks. I did the same thing with the set of bud vases, but because of the wall thickness, it took 3 days for them to dry. I n winter this is my go-to method of drying.1207402403_Fireplacedrying.jpg.64bdf26b73aca53686694d4b2322b2e5.jpg

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This thread is kind of interesting to me: I live in a semi-arid climate. Unless I take steps to slow things down, pots can be too dry to trim in as little as 18 hours. Mugs are usually bone dry within 24-36 hours of having handles attached. The few times I tried using my oven on ‘keep warm’ to force things, I wound up with a lot of losses via handle and rim cracks. 

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I live in the Pacific Northwest, I sometimes wait for more than a week to dry a jar or vase, that's with a space heater going.  I had mold on the inside of an inverted bowl I was trying to dry earlier this week.  Not the most fun time of year here, I'm in a constant state of running out of room to store stuff while it's drying.  Thinking about making a dry box with silica gel on the bottom shelf out of an old Rubbermaid yard tool storage thing.  Just have to figure out where to put my yard tools.

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A simple way we created a speed drying enclosure was to find a suitable cabinet, elevate the ware so air can distribute evenly then install a moderate computer fan whereby much of the air is recirculated and some of the air is exhausted. Add a little heat to this and you can pretty easily dial in a uniform drying speed. Cracks and speed problem solved!

Actually easy to do with the fan mounted on the interior of the enclosure but spaced an inch away from the wall. An opening to outside the cabinet is created centered on the fan and significantly smaller than the diameter of the fan. The user regulates the size of the opening to pick a suitable speed while maintaining as much recirculating as desired based on experience. It takes a short time to learn how to dial in what you want actually.

for those of us that experience significant seasonal humidity shifts this  easily allows minor changes in operation  during summer / winter.

nice tool to even out the moisture in a piece pretty rapidly by covering the hole and recirculating 100% without heat.

now as to rehydrating, that is another interesting story involving pressure and humidity.

Edited by Bill Kielb

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Week before last, pre Christmas rush. Finished trimming on Wednesday morning after throwing  on tuesday , started bisque after trimming. . . before noon. open with two bottom switches on 10%. Lid on at 2, full heat at 9 all 3 switches at 100%. . . .shut down at 1 am. Opened kiln on Thursday after breakfast around 9, glazed, and glaze fired that night,kiln shut down at 2am. Pulled peeps Saturday night, unloaded the kiln on Sunday morning, ground bottoms and drove to Gettysburg so sister-in-law had berry bowls for her music students.  What drying time?

 

best,

Pres

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44 minutes ago, Pres said:

Week before last, pre Christmas rush. Finished trimming on Wednesday morning after throwing  on tuesday , started bisque after trimming. . . before noon. open with two bottom switches on 10%. Lid on at 2, full heat at 9 all 3 switches at 100%. . . .shut down at 1 am. Opened kiln on Thursday after breakfast around 9, glazed, and glaze fired that night,kiln shut down at 2am. Pulled peeps Saturday night, unloaded the kiln on Sunday morning, ground bottoms and drove to Gettysburg so sister-in-law had berry bowls for her music students.  What drying time?

 

best,

Pres

Now we are talking-you never know the limits if you do not test them.. Wet pots in the kiln and slow to start. It work I have done it lots of times.

Good you have it down. Sometimes you push the limits only to find out they where not there to begin with.

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Mark,

Can't really take credit, as I learned to do this as a teacher when coming to Christmas crunch. Too many post, not enough drying time, even with deadlines, and need for bisque/glazing within a week. Sometimes two kiln 1 for section and 1 3 section running at the same time large with glaze, small with scatter stacked bisque. Problem with kids pots in knowing what was too heavy/thick to fire early and what could go quick. After 30 some years you got a system. Still works today when needed.

 

best,

Pres

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