Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
nicolesy

Is Kiln Wash Necessary?

Recommended Posts

I'm new to firing in my own kiln, and have a brand-new Scutt. Up until now, all of my work has been fired in "community" kilns (community centers, schools, etc.), and I absolutely hate dealing with kiln flakes on my work. Now that I have my own kiln, I'm considering not even using kiln wash at all.

 

My question is this: Do you think that kiln wash is entirely necessary? I will be controlling every aspect of what goes into my kiln, as well as firing, so I shouldn't have anything unexpected go into the kiln, and, for items I'm wary about, I'll likely fire them on stilts or on top of a "cookie".

 

What do you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kiln wash is not necessary until the unexpected happens!

If you are of the personality to be super careful and use stilts and cookies then you can forget kiln wash.

BUT ... If you are going to push limits and test glazes then you should use it.

I use it because my best intentions tend to go south when I am harried and busy.

nicolesy likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll certainly know when you should've used it, but in general you'll be okay without. That being said, proper furniture maintenance won't lead to flaking kiln wash, so the other option is to use it properly.

Good point (on furniture maintenance). Since I'll have 100% control, I may not end up with the same amount of flakiness that I get with "community" kilns. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never use kiln wash, but I did once run a test glaze into a pool on a shelf. Now I have a "test shelf" to use whenever I'm testing something I'm unsure of.

nicolesy likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If kiln wash is properly mixed and applied, flaking shouldn't be an issue.  The only time I reapply it, in my classroom, is when I have some bad glaze drips.  And generally, I'll just pop off the drip, and recoat that one spot.

 

Also, if flakes were landing on your work, it sounds like they washed both sides of the shelves.  That's why you are not supposed to do that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We like to think we are in control, but . . . relays fail, controllers fail, we enter a higher cone by mistake, etc. Or, we mess up measuring glaze ingredients and end up with a runny glaze and not that nice stable glaze. As others have said, taking good care of your equipment minimizes unwanted outcomes.

 

Stack your shelves so that the kiln wash sides face each other, alternating with unwashed facing each other; prevents contamination. As I load my kiln, the edges and the unwashed backside of each shelf is sponged down to remove dust, etc. that could fall on glaze items. And, be careful putting shelves in . . . don't hit the walls or thermocouples.

 

But I recommend putting kiln wash on . . . practice safe firing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't use kiln wash for the very reasons you talked about, Nicole.  The community studio always had flaking, nasty kiln wash falling in everyone's work.   So when I got my L&L kiln 3 years ago,  I decided I would find another way.   I use cookies.  For everything.   I have all sizes and I put kiln wash on the cookies.   yes, I have had a couple of accidents but like Mea, I have a shelf that I use for anything that I have concerns about.  However, I think if I had been properly trained in the use and care of kiln wash, I might have felt differently about it.  All I had to go on was my experience. 

 

Roberta

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing about this field of work is t hat you are never totally in control.  thiat's my observations over hte years. WEll maybe it's only me.

I agree. But at least if it's my kiln and my work, I don't have to worry about someone else not really caring about what happens during firing. :)

 

And thanks for the comments, everyone!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicole, I thought exactly the same thing, and later wished I had used the wash.  Properly applied, it does not flake and I would have had clean shelves much longer. 

I also use a lot of glazes and combos and have students, so that may make a difference to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never use kiln wash, but I did once run a test glaze into a pool on a shelf. Now I have a "test shelf" to use whenever I'm testing something I'm unsure of.

nicolesy, adding to my previous comments, I should point out that I only use three glazes. The one that is glossy and a bit runny is only used as a liner. Therefore, what happens in my kiln is very easy to control. If you planning a similar approach in your own studio, then kiln wash is not necessary. But if you would rather have a large selection of glazes, that you are going to layer/combine a lot then kiln wash would make sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicolesy,

 

I run a community clay studio, and in this arena kiln wash is a must. The problem is that given the frequency of our firings, our shelves warp quickly. I'd like to flip our shelves every 2 months to combat the warping, but grinding off the kiln wash leaves them with less-than-flat surfaces. So essentially I'd be trading warping issues for surface craters. And if the shelves aren't ground down pre-flip, the kiln wash flakes, glaze drips, etc will fall into the pots below. I'm between a rock and a hard place, and end up dealing with warped shelves until it's bad enough I just need to buy new ones for the studio.

 

I have a few shelves for my own personal use which I've skipped the kiln wash and have marked the sides A and B with iron oxide wash. I keep a log and alternate which side is fired facing up. When I get my own kiln, this is how I will fire. No kiln wash on the majority of shelves, alternating the sides to prevent wapring. I will keep a couple with wash for glaze tests, etc.

 

If you know your glazes, keep a log of firing times to predict element health, and are mindful of your relays, my opinion is that it's worth the risks of firing sans wash. And I'd encourage flipping them regularly. Certainly all mishaps can't be avoided, but the more exact your practices can be (and it sounds like you have pretty exact practices) the better risk management you'll have.

 

Good luck and congrats on the new kiln!

 

C

nicolesy and Karen B like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the first few years of teaching HS I did not use kiln wash because it always mucked things up at the college when people would place shelves in upside down or wash both sides or paint it on too thick. However, I started kiln washing shelves carefully after a few years of having to scrape, getting cut, or losing pieces to aggressive glaze. After careful washing, with a thin solution, and checking the wash after every load and repairing weak areas, I found that I had much fewer pot or shelf problems. On my own, I usually wash before loading the night before, with scraping where needed and touch up on the wash. It really does not take a whole lot of time, and certainly keeps me from getting cuts from sharp edges. At the same time if I forget to clean the bottom of a pot, it is not a total loss, shelf or pot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you know what is worse, than the process of using kiln wash?  Removing the blobs of glaze, that have effectively bonded themselves to the shelves, and then having to deal with the uneven surface created, from said removal.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After kiln washing do you bisque fire before use?

 

As a first timer .....grind and coat...... I do not like...... (Them.....Sam I am)

 

Would you like them wet or dry?

I would not, could not fire them wet.

 

Would you, could you dry them in the kiln?

From here to 200F for an hour or three.

 

If you feel them you will see

Cool means they're too wet to fire

 

I do so like dry shelves for me

Bisquing is not necessary

 

(deepest apologies all around, it's been a long day)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you use the right wash then flaking is not an issue

You only need wash if the glaze runs (and at some point it will)

or your clay body feet stick (plucking)

 

In ceramics control often is beyond our control or that is what 40 years has taught me in this field.

You will not be happy with glaze runs on the furniture (shelves)

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the Advancer shelves in glaze firings.   I just hit glaze runes with a scrapping tool.  If it doesn't come off we use a dremel and that gets the spots. The Advancer shelves are worth it to me just not to have problems with glaze spots.  My experience is that we haven't had a glaze run that can't be easily removed and have lost only a few ornaments to glaze runes (like 6 or 7 total in 2 years)   For my bisque firing kiln, I have a set of those regular cordierite shelves that have never been used for glaze. 

 

Back when I used those cordierite shelves for glaze, I faithfully applied kiln wash.   I had more accidents back then but if a glaze ran most of the time it stuck the piece to the shelf in spite of the kiln wash.   Not using kiln wash is a huge time saver. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your comments. I decided to go with kiln wash, and will just be very careful with my shelves. In fact, I fired the kiln for my first glaze firing last night (a bunch of test tiles ... totally anxious to see how they turned out!). It's cooling right now so I'll get to find out tonight or tomorrow morning if I did messed anything up, haha. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Small amounts of glaze come off easily with hand held grinder with tile-cutting wheel/ blade. I've used this on pots and shelves that had small glaze errors. It may leave some dings or scratches on the surface of shelves, but I can live with those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×