so I recently purchased a small 120V kiln to use outside (I have no space inside unfortunately, but I do store it inside when it's not in use)
it's the Paragon XPRESS 1193, chamber 11x9 in, 0.56 cu ft
it comes with the Sentry Xpress 4.0 Digital 3-Key Controller.
I'm a real beginner at ceramics.
I did the first firing yesterday at cone 01 with the lid open a few inches for 1 hour as recommended, peephole open and the shelves inside.
today I'm doing my first bisque firing.
I've read the instructions many times and all I could find online, but I still don't know a few things...
it seems that I should vent the kiln in the first stages of the firing, I proped the lid open a few inches and left the peephole open but I'm not sure how long I'm supposed to leave it open. the pieces are really dry (casts that have been sitting on my shelves for weeks). so I figure I would check with a mirror if any steam would come out from the peephole and close the lid around 200°. I saw no steam forming on the mirror at all so I actually closed the lid 25 mn after starting the slow cone 04 program. the temp was about 160° i think.
should I have left the lip open longer ? I'm really unsure of the venting time required.
I've read that the slow program is recommended for bisque. what are the risks and advantages of doing medium/regular and fast speed ?
also, what should be the soaking time ? I've read in a book that porcelain should soak 1 hour.
for this first bisque firing I have both porcelain and low fire casts, so I programmed the soaking time for 30mn. should I increase it to 1 hour ?
also, I've read you should always leave the top peephole open, and well, this is a small kiln so there is only 1 peephole. so I'm not plugging it. when should I ever plug it ? the instruction manual is not really clear...
in a few days I'm going to do a glaze firing at cone 5 or 6 for the porcelain pieces and a glaze firing at cone 06 for the low firing. do I need to have a venting time at the beginning as well ? if so, how long or at what temp should I close the lid ? I guess I should leave the peephole open during the glaze firing as well. what about the soaking time ? what should it be ?
again, what are the advantage and disadvantages of doing slow, medium or fast program during a glaze firing. any recommendation?
I'm sorry I'm having so many questions but I find many different instructions online and I'm not sure what apply to a small kiln like mine.
any help is welcome !