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#1 annarosek

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 06:47 PM

Hey,

My name is Anna and a somewhat amateur at pottery. I took courses all throughout highschool and absolutely fell in love with it. I used to play in the mud as a kid and I'm sure it is no suprise that after taking the classes and everything I'd want a kiln. My mom bought me a kiln sitter model k s18a from an elderly woman and decided it'd be a perfect present for my birthday and it was. The only problem was that I had no instructions on how to use it except for the very vague manufacturers operating manuals. That was about 2 years ago and just on Monday we were able to get all the electrical stuff hooked up. I have already purchased all the necessary stuff that I would need but i have just a few questions on how to do my test firings and bisque firings and all that.

Here's a little info. I already know about the kiln:

automatic shutoff, fires to cone 8, electric, and that it gets hot pretty fast.

Question 1: Since my kiln is an older model and does not have a low-med-high temp guage/knob and all it has is a dial with numbers up to 9 and a section saying HOLD does that just mean hours? And if so would that mean I would increase my "hours" until the automatic shut off engaged?

Question 2: Would the same logic above be applied to glaze fires?

Question 3: If it does not have a temperature gauge then do i have to prop the lid open to relase some heat after firing is finished? I know it needs to cool down slowly but I have no idea when to prop it open.

Question 4: Do I also need to keep a peephole open during firing?

And lastly question 5: Before applying kiln wash do I need to slightly wash my kiln shelf or should I use a damp cloth? Its really dust haha.

Anywho I'm sorry my post is so long and I'd really appreciate any answers that could be given or any advice/references. I can also take photos and post them if need for a better description.

Thanks!

 



#2 Bob Coyle

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 08:01 PM

question 1: The numbers have nothing to do with hours. It is called a "duty cycle" The swithces turn the elements of your kiln on and off for a cretain time. The "1" setting is mostly off. The "5" setting is about equal times on and off. and the "hold" setting is always on. You are going to have to experiment around to come up with a good firing cycle. I had an old kiln that I fired to cone 6. I set all the switches to 3 for the first two hours, then I went up to 6 for another three hours, then i went to full on for the rest of the run.

 

question2: the bisk fire to a lower temperature should be slow so that the pots downt blow up. Prop the lid up about an inch. Try to keep the temperature around 200-220 F for at least an hour on the low end. then bring it up more quickly till it gets to around 1200F ( maybe 5 or 6).  I close the kiln lid and just leave the top peep hole open. From time to time I put a mirror in front of the peep hole and see if a lot of steam is condensing. When the steam is no longer comming out so fast, turn up the kiln to full on and let it run up till it shuts itself off with the kiln sitter.

 

question 3-4

Once the kiln shuts off leave the lid closed till it is less than 300F. You can use a kitchen thermometer through the peep hole to get the temp. This especially important for the glaze firing. Let it cool way down with the lid closed.

 

question5: always wipe dusty shelves, pots etc before putting on kiln wash or glaze. In fact wipe them even if they don't look dusty. That way the wash or glaze will stick better.



#3 bciskepottery

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 08:04 PM

Try searching for a user's manual . . . from the info provided, the kiln may be an Olympic Kilns model s18a.  As to your questions, the numbers 1 to 9 are not hours; rather the numbers represent increasing temperature, with 1 being low and 9 being highest.  Figure 1 to 3 as low range, 4 to 6 as medium, and 7 to 9 as high.  You will need to get cones to monitor temperature during firing -- the cones are viewed through a peep hole.  You will also need cones for the kiln sitter.  Unless the kiln is vented, you may want to leave a peep hole unplugged, at least during the early part of the firing when organic material is being burned out.  Kiln shelves should be clean . . . can be done by a scrapper, then sponge off  the dust, then apply kiln wash mixture.  Again, do a google search and try to find the firing manual.  Also, check around and see if another potter with firing experience is willing to give you a lesson or two.



#4 annarosek

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 08:09 PM

question 1: The numbers have nothing to do with hours. It is called a "duty cycle" The swithces turn the elements of your kiln on and off for a cretain time. The "1" setting is mostly off. The "5" setting is about equal times on and off. and the "hold" setting is always on. You are going to have to experiment around to come up with a good firing cycle. I had an old kiln that I fired to cone 6. I set all the switches to 3 for the first two hours, then I went up to 6 for another three hours, then i went to full on for the rest of the run.

 

question2: the bisk fire to a lower temperature should be slow so that the pots downt blow up. Prop the lid up about an inch. Try to keep the temperature around 200-220 F for at least an hour on the low end. then bring it up more quickly till it gets to around 1200F ( maybe 5 or 6).  I close the kiln lid and just leave the top peep hole open. From time to time I put a mirror in front of the peep hole and see if a lot of steam is condensing. When the steam is no longer comming out so fast, turn up the kiln to full on and let it run up till it shuts itself off with the kiln sitter.

 

question 3-4

Once the kiln shuts off leave the lid closed till it is less than 300F. You can use a kitchen thermometer through the peep hole to get the temp. This especially important for the glaze firing. Let it cool way down with the lid closed.

 

question5: always wipe dusty shelves, pots etc before putting on kiln wash or glaze. In fact wipe them even if they don't look dusty. That way the wash or glaze will stick better.

Thanks Bob! I really appreciate the answers. I was just looking at your reply and was inspecting the knob more and there arent any switches either. It says Fireright on the knob section and has SET on it too. Does that change anything?



#5 annarosek

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 08:11 PM

Try searching for a user's manual . . . from the info provided, the kiln may be an Olympic Kilns model s18a.  As to your questions, the numbers 1 to 9 are not hours; rather the numbers represent increasing temperature, with 1 being low and 9 being highest.  Figure 1 to 3 as low range, 4 to 6 as medium, and 7 to 9 as high.  You will need to get cones to monitor temperature during firing -- the cones are viewed through a peep hole.  You will also need cones for the kiln sitter.  Unless the kiln is vented, you may want to leave a peep hole unplugged, at least during the early part of the firing when organic material is being burned out.  Kiln shelves should be clean . . . can be done by a scrapper, then sponge off  the dust, then apply kiln wash mixture.  Again, do a google search and try to find the firing manual.  Also, check around and see if another potter with firing experience is willing to give you a lesson or two.

Thanks so much :) i get so excited about doing my artwork and you and Bob really helped me think about how I'm going to do this. I appreciate all the help!



#6 oldlady

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:57 PM

there have been several recent questions about firing kilns by new owners.  read through them to see if the info triggers any new questions in your mind.  is there absolutely no info about a manufacturer anywhere on the kiln?  do you still have the manual you mentioned?  can you contact the maker of the kiln and ask for info?  all the big names are very anxious to help people out.   i assume you do not yet have enough work to fill a kiln and you are just testing it out to see how it operates empty except for shelves and posts. 

 

check your local library for "Electric Kiln ceramics or firing" by richard Zakin for basic info re firing.

 

your question #3 is scary to me.  YOU NEVER OPEN A HOT KILN AND PROP UP THE LID TO COOL IT.  where did you get this idea?  do not believe the source of such a dangerous suggestion.  you prop open a lid to let gasses escape at the very BEGINNING OF FIRING.  please get more info before you turn it on, nobody wants to see a new member burned from lack of info.


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#7 annarosek

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 06:59 AM

there have been several recent questions about firing kilns by new owners.  read through them to see if the info triggers any new questions in your mind.  is there absolutely no info about a manufacturer anywhere on the kiln?  do you still have the manual you mentioned?  can you contact the maker of the kiln and ask for info?  all the big names are very anxious to help people out.   i assume you do not yet have enough work to fill a kiln and you are just testing it out to see how it operates empty except for shelves and posts. 

 

check your local library for "Electric Kiln ceramics or firing" by richard Zakin for basic info re firing.

 

your question #3 is scary to me.  YOU NEVER OPEN A HOT KILN AND PROP UP THE LID TO COOL IT.  where did you get this idea?  do not believe the source of such a dangerous suggestion.  you prop open a lid to let gasses escape at the very BEGINNING OF FIRING.  please get more info before you turn it on, nobody wants to see a new member burned from lack of info.

Its an Olympic Kiln and I've tried contacting the store in my area but they close right as I get off work. I will go and check out the book cause that would really help a lot. And yes right now I'm just trying to do a test fire before i start working on a piece I could ruin. The last thing i would wanna do is destroy my kiln before I could properly use it. For my question my old high school pottery teacher had a temp gauge on the kiln and after firing when the temp would get really low she would prop the lid open maybe and inch or two to let our pots cool a little faster. But she would only do it when it got really cool inside the kiln. If i don't do that then could I open the second peephole or just wait all together until the next morning to unload it?



#8 OffCenter

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 07:41 AM

As long as your pots are dry there is no need to leave the lid open at all. By doing so you're just heating the room the kiln is in and wasting electricity. Close the lid and fire slowly to well above the boiling point (maybe 250 just to be sure). Then, unless you have pieces in the kiln that are a good bit larger or thicker than the average pot, turn the kiln on high. After the water is out of the pot at 212 degrees the only other thing that blows up pots is the chemical water which leaves at about 500 but unless you have a kiln that fires hotter than most kilns (and the only Olympic kiln that does that is their tiny test kiln which is just big enough for a small cup) you do not have to worry about the chemical water unless you're doing scupture. You may want to be over cautious when you start out but do yourself and the planet a favor by testing for yourself to see if you can save lots of time and energy by never firing with the lid open and turning the kiln on high at about 250 degrees.

 

Jim


E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#9 JLowes

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 09:05 AM

Hi Anna,

 

Olympic Kilns has a website with contact information and some downloads that may be helpful:

 

http://www.greatkilns.com/

 

I have an older Olympic oval kiln that I bought via Craigslist and Olympic was very helpful in supplying me with information about my kiln.   The folks I purchased from had not one manual, and it was my first kiln. 

 

Your instructor can help you too, but you may need to edit their advice it seems.  When someone fires in a group studio situation, sometimes bad habits develop.  Opening too soon is not a good habit to get into.  I recommend purchasing a pyrometer if you can.  I found that once I had a good idea on the temperature in the kiln that

 

Although your kiln is not a Paragon, you may find that the information offered at their website support pages will also be helpful as you get started:

 

http://www.paragonwe...iln_Support.cfm

 

Good luck with your firings.

 

John

 

 



#10 Frankiegirl

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 11:57 AM

Q1-2 - Do you have a kiln manual or can you find one online? A "hold" is a temperature stay and is used for maturing a glaze during a glaze firing.

 

Q3 -An easy and cheap way to test if the kiln is ready to open without a pyrometer, is to roll up and stick a piece of paper in a peephole. If it catches fire, smokes or singes, don't open the kiln. Paper burns at 451 degrees.

 

Q4 - Nope

 

Q5 - Wiping it down will not matter. Be sure only to kiln wash the top of the shelf and not get any wash on the sides or bottom of the shelves. This is a lesson I learned the hard way!



#11 LovesPurple

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:05 PM

Anna

 

I have not been at this very long, so I do clearly remember getting my first "used" kiln and being intimidated by it.  Here is what I learned.

 

1.  Although many people may look down their nose at you, if you use paper clay (I use Max's from Laguna) your chances of blowing something up in the kiln while you are learning to use it will be small, if any.  I don't do wheel work, but I understand that the paper clay will not work for that.  The paper clay also does not care if you have the occasional air bubble.  I am in southern California and can put the leather dry objects out in direct sun (at 100°) and it does not care.

 

2.  Even if I am certain that something is dry and ready to fire, I put it in my oven overnight with just the oven light on - it will keep the oven over 100° - just to make sure.

 

3.  I use bar cones in the kiln sitter, and use one cone hotter than what you are firing.  So, if you are firing 04 bisque, put in an 03 bar cone.

 

4.  Get a pyrometer, it will help you figure out what is going on inside the kiln.

 

5.  My kiln had 2 plug holes.  I kept the bottom plugged, ALWAYS left the top one open, and until the kiln reached about 1000° left the lid propped about 1/2".  It is my understanding that the elements last longer if you vent the kiln until all the stuff that needs to burn off does.

 

6. On my old manual kiln I would turn the knob to 1, then go back an hour later and turn it up to 10, then go back an hour later and turn it to 20, etc.  For glaze firings, I would go slower, 1, 10, 20, 30, 50, 70, 80 (I did not go all the way to 100% for glaze) and then wait for the kiln sitter to trip.  For bisque I went faster, 1, 10, 30, 50, 70, 90, 100.  The whole increase the temperature to X number of degrees per hour is hard to figure out with a manual kiln - at least it was for me.

 

7. I start firing in the morning, then the next morning at around the same time I unload the kiln.  And I leave the lid down - oh, the urge to peek is so great - until it is ready to unload.  The pyrometer should show the kiln to be at room temperature before you open it.

 

Hope this helps you.  :)



#12 oldlady

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:31 PM

great that you found the manufacturer.  do not bother with wherever you bought it, go DIRECTLY to the manufacturer and ask for some technical help.  call on the phone and do not hang up until you have what info you need.  if you are transferred ten times, so what.  persist and get the technician's name and a number to contact her/him again.


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