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Rebekah Krieger

Reduction Kiln- Too Early?

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As you know I have been throwing for 2 1/2 years. I was just offered the chance to purchase a large brick reduction kiln for $300.  I feel like I am at the point where I need to start working on alternative firing methods and glaze making to start making work that is unique to me. Is it too early for me to start something like that? I always wanted to have a small anagama kiln in my yard.  Is this a logical next step or taking on too much? I do not have a shelter to use for this kiln.   

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neilestrick    1,381

If it's a soft brick kiln, it must be under a shelter. If it's hard brick, a shelter is still recommended since you live in a cold, icy part of the country. You'll also have to consider the cost of plumbing it up with either natural gas or propane, and the cost of gas in your area.

 

The big question here is do you need a gas kiln to make the work you want to make? Or do you just need to gain more experience in glaze formulation? I used to think I needed a gas kiln to be happy, but now I realize that I have gone further with cone 6 electric than I would have had I stayed with cone 10 reduction. One is not better than the other, just different, and for me cone 6 electric is perfect for the work I want to make. So dig deep and figure out what you want to do. It's a hard thing to decide, and maybe you need to gain more experience with different firing techniques before making that decision.

 

$300 is a steal, but don't buy it just because it's cheap and different and new and exciting. Save that $300 and put it toward a wood kiln if that's what you really want to do. Or put the $300 toward spending some time learning to wood fire with some of your local potters. Michael Schael or Mark Skudlarek (both in Cambridge, WI) would probably be happy to have some help firing their wood kilns.

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Bob Coyle    113

$300 is a good price but as mentioned, there are other costs to consider, especially if you have to pay someone to hook it up and build a shelter.. I have often wished that I could do reduction, since it opens up a lot of glaze possibilities that  I don't have now. If I could find a kiln for $300 I would jump at  it.

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Mark C.    1,804

A gas kiln will teach you other firing techniques and learning is a good thing-at 300$ and if its soft brick and in good shape and you are willing to shelter it why not?

I am of the belief that the more you can learn in ceramics is best.

Mark

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JBaymore    1,432

Get a picture up here of the unit so we can tell you if it is a "keeper" or a "run away". Brand name? Site built? Dimensions?

 

Generally $300 for any decent sized one is beyond a "steal" if the bricks and burners are still in good condition.

 

best,

 

......................john

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Min    782

I would look into the home insurance and municipal bylaws side of things also before buying. 

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he mentioned it was not usual its updraft with 4 burners? i don't know what i am talking about, just repeating what i heard. He mentioned brick rings going up to 8 feet.   I am not extremely worried about any restrictions for my area.  I live on a country road and each of my neighbors have land between us.  There are some on my road with horses and a gun club. We also have marsh on my property so it's fairly damp.  He said he used to use dirty oil because it was free. 

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JBaymore    1,432

Ah...... it is an oil fired kiln?????

 

REALLY need to see pictures.

 

Oil is a tough one for your first fuel fired kiln.  Could be converted to propane... but that is going to cost you a bunch.

 

best,

 

....................john

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Biglou13    202

I'd love a redux kiln.

 

But I'm a bigger fan of wood fired.

I'd consider getting some wood fired clay and getting those pieces fired.

 

But a good deal on redux kiln will be hard to pass on. I've recently seen some traditional glazes. That are amazing (Coleman's celadon, Malcolm Davis red!). That would keep me satisfied between wood firings.

 

I'm holding out that kiln works out. But in mean time get a bag of a good woodfired clay, and get those pieces fired . Warning this may start a new addiction! (Will).

 

It's never to early........

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jrgpots    231

he mentioned it was not usual its updraft with 4 burners? i don't know what i am talking about, just repeating what i heard. He mentioned brick rings going up to 8 feet.   I am not extremely worried about any restrictions for my area.  I live on a country road and each of my neighbors have land between us.  There are some on my road with horses and a gun club. We also have marsh on my property so it's fairly damp.  He said he used to use dirty oil because it was free.

 

If you get pics of this kiln, many of us would love to see the design, especially if it comes with the waste oil burner and these 8 foot rings.

 

 

Jed

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bciskepottery    925

I feel like I am at the point where I need to start working on alternative firing methods and glaze making to start making work that is unique to me.

You might want to try a couple of alternate firings -- wood, gas, whatever -- to see which one gives you the expression you are looking for before settling on a type of reduction kiln. You may find that the one you buy now is not the one you like to work in.

 

You also might want to look over the kiln, maybe take someone who is experienced in firing that type of kiln with you so you can get a better feel for the kiln's condition, the amount of work involved in firing, etc. before committing your money . . . and future time. And consider the impact on your time (and family) of firing . . . are you ready for 10 to 12 hours for firing, not including loading time, pre/post clean up/prep, etc. It's not just about the kiln, its also about the process.

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Benzine    610

Rebekah,

 

If you are interested in alternative firings, what about Raku?  You can build your own kiln, for next to nothing, they are cheap to fire and give you multiple possible approaches (Basic standard Western Raku, Naked Raku, etc)  The only downside is, the wares are only decorative.

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Pres    896

I think at this juncture, you have some decisions to make, possibly after posting a pic of this kiln. If it is in good shape, can you fire it as oil, or will you convert it. Do you have a Shed budget, and budget for putting in the gas line? Is there access to a gas main? Could you accomplish as much at this early stage by staying electric and firing at cone 6 which is quite durable, and as so many potters have demonstrated very versatile in color and texture response?

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

It really is your call to know if you are ready. And I would recommend having experience firing atmospheric kilns before you buy one. If this is oil, they are tricky. With inefficient burning of the oil, you can get big carbon clinkers in front of the burner. I read Leach's writing on clinkers but didn't get it until it happened during a firing. Post some pictures to help us see what you are thinking about buying. It may not be such a great deal or it could be a steal!

 

What is your neighborhood like? Oils can create a lot of black smoke and not great if your neighbors are close.

 

Marci

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I will have to ask him about the kiln photos. It is on another property about an hour or two north.  He isn't really in a rush to sell it, so I anticipate it will be there in 3 years if I wanted it.  (it sat there for at least a decade unfired)  My neighborhood should be fine with it since i live on a country road and we each have 6-20 acres.  my neighbor burns his garbage (it pisses me off when he does but I say nothing because he lived there before I moved into the neighborhood)  and there is a gun club at the end of the road that everyone has grown accustomed to dealing with.  

 

The guy selling it is the guy who taught the throwing classes at the museum. (where I learned)  Apparently he was a classmate of steven hill. He also built his own anagama kiln.  I am almost tempted to offer him money to help me build one of those. (a small one) Waiting for some local wood fire potters to reply to my messages about participating in a firing.  I did get to observe a raku firing which was fantastic!  I would also love to see a salt firing because i LOVE salt fired items! 

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Mark C.    1,804

I think this will all be a learning curve-I would move ahead while the iron is hot. Oil is a bit tricky to fire but it could be converted to gas. The price is so low-transport will be the big issue anyway.

Heck if its a hard brick kiln you could turn it into a salt kiln.

I'm not a baby step person so my vote is no its not to early.

he who hesitates is lost

If you are not ready for it will be ready for you later after you have moved it.

If you wait 3 more years who knows where it or he will be in life.

Mark

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alabama    144

Hey,

     If I were you , I'd go ahead and buy it, then decide what to do.  You have time on your side.

For a cover you'll need a simple pole barn, a source of wood, propane, or continue to use oil.

You'll move it brick by brick which will allow you to research different types an sizes of kilns.

You don't want a kiln so big that it will take 18 to 24 months to fill by yourself.

The good thing about a reduction kiln, is that you can also use it for oxidation occasionally.

Ask to current owner the type of brick and how many cubic ft. it is.

Ask how long it took him to fill it up.

 

go to youtube and search for "salt glazed kilns" and you'll see that some are over sized

metal milk crates with fiber lining... Kind of like a Raku kiln.   And while at youtube search "pole barns"

just to see if there is info on building them.

 

     If you go to salt later, then you need to decide what side of the property to build on.

Because it's corrosive, build on the leeward side.  And if by chance you didn't know, if you ever

use it for a salt kiln, you can not use it or the kiln furniture in it for anything else from then on..

 

It sounds like you have a good deal of research ahead of you. 

 

Please keep us posted,

good luck

Alabama

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Biglou13    202

Overheard at @studio............ ".......Salt/soda is for people who can't wood fire........ They just haven't yet realized they are wood fired people, yet" I can't comment on salt. But laughed at what was over heard..... Elitists everywhere!

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It is on another property about an hour or two north. He isn't really in a rush to sell it, so I anticipate it will be there in 3 years if I wanted it. (it sat there for at least a decade unfired)

Well, one compromise might be to see if you can use it on his property a few times to see if it is something you'll enjoy. While you are there, check out the storage solution he uses. In the meantime check out some oil, soda and salt firing books to learn what you can learn about processes.

 

Johnny

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Mark C.    1,804

At my last show I heard potters say wood is for those who can't fire salt and haven't realized it yet.

Ok just kidding as I know of know potters that wood say that.

But really both processes are better with many participants to divide the labor

Any kiln that requires wood as a sole fuel source is very labor intenstive vs a another fuel source

 

I still suggest getting more info on your future kiln.

Mark

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jrgpots    231

 

It is on another property about an hour or two north. He isn't really in a rush to sell it, so I anticipate it will be there in 3 years if I wanted it. (it sat there for at least a decade unfired)

Well, one compromise might be to see if you can use it on his property a few times to see if it is something you'll enjoy. While you are there, check out the storage solution he uses. In the meantime check out some oil, soda and salt firing books to learn what you can learn about processes.

Johnny

I really like this idea of making trial runs with the kiln if possible. It would be great if the builder could show you the firing procedure/schedule. There is so much to learn.

 

Jed

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

You are the only one who can make the call if you are ready for a reduction kiln. Did I read this is an oil kiln?

If so, be aware that oil kiln can produce a lot of stinky smoke. Also carbon klinkers. I had read about these in Leach.s book, but I didn't get it until I had them blocking my burners. Oil can be a whole other game

Something to consider with oil. Get a copy of bernard Leach's "a potter's book" to learn something about oil firing. You need to beware of cold secondary air that cause klinkers.

Marcia

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bciskepottery    925

Would you buy a used car . . . without first taking it for a test drive? Hopefully not. Same principle applies here. If you have not yet done an oil-fueled firing (not just putting pieces in for firing, but actually firing and doing pre/post firing duties), then you don't know if this style/approach is for you. Regardless of how good the price is, you just don't know what you are getting into until you've done that type of firing. And, you will need to learn to fire that kiln from someone who knows how and my guess is oil-fuel kiln operators are few and far between.

 

And, that the kiln has not been fired in over a decade sends red flags everywhere.

 

I've had my electric kiln for about five years; and, I'll be the first to admit I have not pushed it to see what it can really do.

 

I've also gas fired (cone 10 redux) and have done salt firings (also cone 10 redux, two firings over the past 6 weeks). The work I fire in these kilns supplements my electric work, it does not replace it. And, while I would love to have a gas kiln, it does not work in my life right now. So, taking the occasional opportunity to fire elsewhere fits the bill and it gives me a first hand point of reference for deciding if that is the route I want for the future. The salt firings really underscored the amount of pre/post firing work involved. And, while I love the look, it is not the look for everything I make.

 

Find opportunities to sample alternative firing approaches and use that first hand knowledge, along with books/articles, to make an informed choice.

 

Craigslist and other venues are full of kilns, wheels, etc. that were bought impulsively, used once/twice, and are now looking for new homes. Sorry if that sounds rough, nothing personal.

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