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Test Kiln TIps


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#1 Barley Hollow

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:47 PM

I'm thinking about getting a small test kiln to help accelerate my glaze formulation work. It's just taking way too long for me to make enough stuff to justify firing the big kiln (an L&L e-23). All my work electric fired in the cone 5-6 range. So, the idea of adding a smaller faster kiln appeals. I'd be interested in hearing recommendations or experiences from folks who are using test kilns in their regular practice.

What should I watch out for?

What's especially effective for working on glazes?

How close are the results in test kiln firings to corresponding large kiln firings?

What do you wish someone had told you when you were thinking about adding a test kiln?

Thanks!

#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 05:57 AM

I have had my test kiln for 15-20 years. Changed the coil once and the switch once. Mine is a crucible kiln from Seattle Pottery.
it is 12" did. with 9" depth.
If you want to be able to duplicate your precise firing schedule , you may want a controller.
I don't have one. To slow the cooling I put ceramic fiber blanket on top.
Mine it on 120 v with 30 amp breaker.
My glaze tests are accurate. I fire tiles off the shelf and straddled over post to assure overall heating.
I like the size of my kiln because I can also use it for a small glaze firing of a 10 or so mugs if I need to.

Marcia

#3 neilestrick

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:41 AM

The main issue with testing glazes in a small test kiln is that the cooling times will be dramatically faster, and often the firing times as well, so you will not get accurate examples of how the glazes will look when fired in your big kiln. The solution is to get a test kiln with a digital controller so you can fire and cool at the same rate as your big kiln. Also most small test kilns will need a 20 amp circuit, which you may not have. Most 120 volt circuits are 15 amps. L&L makes some nice little kilns with the same controller as your e23. http://hotkilns.com/dl11-d Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
Neil Estrick
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Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#4 Tom

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:00 AM

I use the test kiln to eliminate glazes that don't work well. when I find a glaze works in the test kiln then it is tested in the my large kiln. I can usually get a reasonable glaze result after just a few firing in the large kiln. That could take about 2 months.

have fun with testing some of my best glazes are one that did not come out the way I thought they would.


Tom

#5 Mossyrock

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:07 AM

I was at the same place you are....not having enough pieces to fill my kiln when I wanted to test glazes (cone 6) so I purchased a small computer controlled test kiln. I mentioned that I had bought one to two long time potters and they both said that because of the difference in size, cooling, etc., I would not get accurate results with the test kiln. They suggested that I make several very large pieces, flower pots or something similar, that is fairly quick and simple, then put my test tiles in with them when I fire them (they will only have an iron oxide wash when I fire them to cone 6). So I sold the test kiln (still in the box) at a reduced price and am in the process of testing my glazes in the kiln I will be firing in.
Brenda Moore
Mossy Rock Creations
High Point, NC

#6 Barley Hollow

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 08:36 AM

Thanks everyone! You input has been really helpful. I'm now thinking a test kiln would be worth trying, and it seems clear that more control over the cool-down is desirable. That will make selecting a test kiln much easier. At this point, I'm leaning toward the L&L Doll Baby with Dynatrol, which would fit inn with the current kiln nicely, and could use the existing kiln monitoring software.

#7 neilestrick

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:02 AM

At this point, I'm leaning toward the L&L Doll Baby with Dynatrol, which would fit inn with the current kiln nicely, and could use the existing kiln monitoring software.


That's a great little kiln. There are several models available, depending on your firing and wiring needs: The 15amp version only goes to cone 5. The cone 10 version runs on 18 amps, 120V but requires a 25 amp circuit. There's also a cone 10 high voltage version which runs on 240V with a 15 amp circuit. There are other test kilns on the market which use a 20 amp, 120V circuit, but they won't have the durability of the L&L or the Dynatrol. Since you already have a larger L&L, it will be nice to be able to run the same program on both kilns. That's what I do here in my studio, but with an e18T (4cu/ft) and a DaVinci T3427 (20cu/ft). Near identical results with the controlled cooling.
Neil Estrick
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Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#8 Arnold Howard

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:50 PM

I'm thinking about getting a small test kiln to help accelerate my glaze formulation work. It's just taking way too long for me to make enough stuff to justify firing the big kiln (an L&L e-23). All my work electric fired in the cone 5-6 range. So, the idea of adding a smaller faster kiln appeals. I'd be interested in hearing recommendations or experiences from folks who are using test kilns in their regular practice.


The cooling rate of the small test kiln should match the cooling rate of your production kiln. You can program the cooling rate of the test kiln. Here is an article on the topic:

http://www.paragonwe...ter.cfm?PID=348

Sincerely,

Arnold Howard
Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA
ahoward@paragonweb.com / www.paragonweb.com




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