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vervain

Member Since 19 Apr 2012
Offline Last Active Apr 14 2014 08:30 AM
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Topics I've Started

Kiln options

10 May 2013 - 02:24 PM

So. I have a budget of roughly $2,000 for a new kiln (trying to keep costs as low as possible, but also address what my real kiln needs are), and I'm looking at two different kilns of the same brand (which I won't mention here, because it's irrelevant to my decision) but different sizes and features.

I could get a 2.9 cu ft kiln with 3" brick and automatic firing for $1649

OR

I could get a 4.6 cu ft kiln with 2.5" brick, but equipped with a kiln sitter for $1774

OR

I could get a 4.2 cu ft kiln with 3" brick with kiln sitter for $1874


I have a small scale pottery business, but I was firing at least every week and sometimes 2-3 times a week with my old (deceased) 2.6 cu ft kiln. The deceased was also manual.

So what would you do? I need some opinions here. Do I go with the larger manual kiln because of how often I was firing my last one? How important is 3" brick vs 2.5"? Kiln sitter vs automatic controller- am I missing out hugely? Will I even KNOW since I've never used a kiln with auto before? Would it be better to get a larger kiln manual or a smaller one auto? I have no idea, and I'm thinking myself in circles. I needed opinions so I thought I'd ask you all. :)

Please help?

Another "my first show" thread (sorry)

06 May 2013 - 09:43 AM

So I had my public ceramics debut this weekend at my local farm and craft market!

I was far from selling out, but that's not terribly surprising. I had no idea how large my body of work was until I laid it all out on my deck to price it last week. (if I never had to decide prices for things again, it would be too soon. I HATE pricing).

The public received my work well, and I was invited to several more local venues, and I even met some local potters and scheduled some clay play dates Posted Image.

I have a feeling this whole show/fair/ farmer's market thing is going to be quite the learning experience. I already know a few pricing changes I'm going to make, and I'm going to arrange my booth differently next weekend. I put some of my flashier stuff out toward the front, but I feel like it sticker-shocked people and prevented them from coming in where I had all my little impulse buys. Will swap the arrangement for next time. I also had my tables in sort of an L-shaped arrangement, which prevented people from seeing a large portion of my work when just passing by, because it was blocked by other things. Not sure what to do about that though, due to space constraints.

I think the final change I would make, is to make space for myself INSIDE my booth. I thought, oh, the market is shady, I'll be fine without sunblock. Well, I am one crispy critter now!

Anyway, I just wanted to post, because I am very proud that I had the guts to get out there and actually do this, it was very empowering.

My weird kiln won't reach temp

26 April 2013 - 08:48 AM

Now, I know there are a number of troubleshooting threads on here about kilns not reaching temperature, but my problem is a little more complicated. See, I have an old Nova 18 kiln. Its a ceramic fiber kiln where the elements are embedded in the walls.

I'm trying to fire to cone 6, and have successfully done so many times before, but this time (probably because I have a show the first week in May, and hey, what could stress me out more?) it will. not. reach. temp. And it is SO CLOSE. The kiln color and look of the pieces leads me to believe its hovering around cone 5. Maybe even ^5.5. Its very close but my touchier glazes aren't there yet. I've tried 3 times to get it to temp and every time it's timing out before hitting temp. And I'm being more than generous with the time. I had some suspicions that something might be going last time I fired. I took the cone out of the sitter and it wasn't quite to 90 degrees. Bent certainly, but a little under where it usually is. Had I been smart I would have put witness cone packs on all my shelves and checked it out further, but I didn't. Live and learn.

The specs:

-Nova 18 model KL-21830 Series 218
-6120 Watts, 240 V, 1 phase

-Interior size is about 18" deep by 18" in diameter

-Kiln sitter model LT-3K

Breakers are fine, plug is fine, I know the electrical going to it is good, I had a master electrician install it specifically for this kiln. Fires to lower temps within a normal time range, the last firing had the cone barely under-fired looking. Generally a glaze fire takes me about 7 hours, 1 on low, 1 on medium, then I turn it up to high. I've reliably used this glaze firing schedule on all my previous firings. This time I did the same, one hour on low, 1 on medium, turn to high. I checked it at the end of the time, and it had timed out but the latch on my sitter had not dropped. I immediately reset the timer for 5 more hours (figuring I would just keep checking on it) and restarted it. Again, it timed out and didn't reach temp. I started it AGAIN, and it just hovered there, looking like it was about cone 5. 4.5 more hours and I just turned it off. I let it cool yesterday evening and last night and peered into it this morning, and things just look kinda under fired. It was still too hot to open up and check the cone. I'll do that tonight when I get home from work. I'll also turn it on high with the lid open and see if I can see the elements glowing through the walls. It's really hard to see though, as the ceramic fiber all just glows when heated up.

Something I did notice last night was the lack of noise from the sitter. Generally it hums on and off, punctuated every once in a while by little popping noises. Now, I'm not sure if this is normal sitter behavior, but it's normal for mine. I don't know much about the nuts n bolts of kiln controls, so I'm at a little but of a loss here, but do you think there's any chance that it could be something in there that's going?