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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:03 PM

#106198 What Would Work Best?

Posted by neilestrick on 03 May 2016 - 10:10 AM

I know folks who fire directly on Advancers with no kiln wash, however I have heard that porcelain bodies can pluck if you don't use wash.

#106105 Treadle Versus Electric Wheel - Any Advice Please?

Posted by neilestrick on 02 May 2016 - 10:47 AM

Electric and treadle wheels are two different animals. If you're used to an electric, the treadle will feel quite different. The process may also affect your work, for better or worse, as the process is different. Personally, I couldn't throw the way I do on a treadle because the speed isn't there. It would definitely slow down my production rate. But I know folks who use treadles and they love them. I would't make any investment until I tried it out for a while.

#105998 Need Advice On Buying A Used Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 30 April 2016 - 12:45 PM

Olympic makes a conversion system where you remove the sitter and screw on a new control box with the digital system in it. Otherwise, Skutt and Orton make a digital control box that hangs on the wall, and you just plug the kiln into it. Personally, I like the wall mounted because the controls will stay cooler, and you can use the sitter as a backup shutoff.

#105977 Help - My Kiln Shelves Melted!

Posted by neilestrick on 30 April 2016 - 08:59 AM


I think "cost" needs to be revisited and calculated. A K type cost $50 and a type S cost $250.00. I just replaced my type S in my test kiln after nearly 1000 firings. How many times would a type K been replaced in that same period? How much did Andrea loss in one firing? How many under-firings or over-firings have occurred due to inaccurate readings from a Type K that is burning out due to firing past its intended limits repeatedly? I have the same feelings about APM elements vs Kathanal A-1 elements. My 6.5Cf crystalline kiln has over 60 cone 10 firings, over 100 cone 6 firings, and roughly 20 bisque firings and the elements are not even beginning to lay over. In my test kiln, I average around 400 firings at cone 6 per set of APM's. So are they really more expensive, or just higher up front costs?



Type K only cost $16, not $50. I can get a couple hundred firings from my thermocouples, so that's $80 for 1000 firings. Even if I only got 100, that's $160. And with three thermocouples, that's $480 compared to $750. That's almost the price of an entire set of elements. Yes, type S are more accurate, but type K are accurate enough for what I do, and what most people do at cone 6 and lower. If I was going to fire to cone 10 regularly, then yes I would invest in type S and probably APMs. If you do regular kiln maintenance and inspect your thermocouples regularly, then you can avoid the problems that occur as they wear out. Personally, I've never lost a load of pots due to thermocouple issues.


Yes, type S last longer. Yes, APM last longer. Yes, solid state relays last longer. But that's not the issue. If all these things were standard on kilns it would drive up the cost to the point that we wouldn't sell very many kilns, and the ceramics community would shrink considerably. It's hard enough for folks to afford a $3000 kiln. Add all the upgrades and the cost goes up 40% or more. APM elements are also very sensitive to debris. A shard or glaze glob on one can easily cause one to fry out. That level of sensitivity is not good for school situations, or even most hobbyists. Fry out on element prematurely and you've wiped out much of the savings. The equipment that we use now is a balance of cost and durability, and for most people it is an acceptable balance. If you want or need the very best, it's available.

#105843 L&l New Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 28 April 2016 - 08:17 AM

Error 1 simply means that the kiln is not heating up as fast as it should. It could be that the elements are shot, but it could also be a broken element, a dead relay, a bad thermocouple, a loose connection, or just a fluke. At 78 firings your elements should still be plenty good unless you're doing very long, slow, hot firings with holds. I would first check that you didn't have one element fry out. The easiest way to do this, since it can be difficult to find a break, is to check the element resistance, which will also tell you if the elements are worn. Instructions HERE. If the resistance in one section is way off from the others, then there's a break in one of the elements. If they are all good, then you need to check the flow of electricity from the power cord to the elements and see if there's a break in the flow somewhere. If you're not comfortable with using a meter, then do a Vary-fire program with one step to 1000F at a rate of 9999. When you start the kiln it will turn all the elements on full blast. After a few minutes you can check to see if all the elements are glowing. If one element is out, then there's a break in it. If a pair of elements are out, then the relay for that section is dead.

#105842 Recommendations For Levelling A New Kiln Installation?

Posted by neilestrick on 28 April 2016 - 08:09 AM

My floor was only slightly out of level, so I stepped on a beer can and used that.


I hope you drank the beer first.

#105799 "functional" Low Fire Clay

Posted by neilestrick on 27 April 2016 - 01:56 PM

The cost difference between firing bisque or cone 6 is only going to be a couple dollars per firing. The main cost difference is replacing the elements, since you get 2-3 times as many firings when doing low fire. Either way it's pretty cheap, though, when you calculate the cost per pot.

#105670 Catenary Wood Fire Kiln Stalling? Eveness?

Posted by neilestrick on 24 April 2016 - 09:37 PM

Firing a crossdraft wood kiln is no different than firing a gas kiln. You have fuel, air, and pressure (chimney draw). If it stalls out, them something is out of whack. I would say that the load was not too tight. It looks like you have plenty of open space for the kiln to breath. Usually it's all about the air- either too little or too much, but usually too little. In the wood kilns I have dealt with, the problem was usually that the ash pit was clogged up, in which case you had to let it burn down or scoop it out. To burn it down, I'd put in a few big soaker logs to keep stuff burning without creating coals too quickly, and increase the chimney draw to pull more air across the ash pit to burn it down. Stirring the pit helps, too. Sometimes there was a little loss of temperature, but it was quickly regained once everything was burned down.


Also, most of the wood kilns I've fired have a point at which they stall out, usually around cone 5ish, sometimes for an hour or more, after which they rocket up. I think there's a point at which the bricks and ware are still soaking up the heat, and the kiln just can't get any hotter until everything catches up.

#105601 Can't Find Info On My Kiln Model!

Posted by neilestrick on 23 April 2016 - 09:34 AM

All manual kilns work the same way for the most part. Put a cone in the sitter, turn it up every hour. If you need elements, call Euclids. They will be able to make elements for you based on the info on the serial plate and kiln measurements.

#105505 Cornstarch

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2016 - 08:42 PM

To keep a glaze in suspension:

Add 2% bentonite and 0.5% Epsom Salts. The bentonite needs to be added during the weighing process and dry mixed well or it will clump. The Epsom Salts should be dissolved in water and added to the wet mix after sieving. There will be a noticeable thickening of the glaze upon adding it, and additional water may need to be added.


To make a glaze brushable:

Make gum solution by adding 2 tablespoons CMC gum and 1/8 teaspoon copper carbonate (preservative) to a gallon of warm water. Let it sit overnight, then blend till smooth. Substitute 1/3 of the water in the glaze with gum solution.

#105484 Slip Casting Moulds

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2016 - 11:21 AM

Mold vs. mould

American English has no mould, and British English has no mold. In other words, the word referring to (1) the various funguses that grow on organic matter or (2) a frame for shaping something is spelled the same in both uses, and the spelling depends on the variety of English.

Of course, the spelling difference extends to derivatives such as moldy/mouldy and molding/moldingand to the verb sense to shape with a mold. 

Australian and Canadian English favor the British spelling, though mold is fairly common in Canadian publications.

#105483 Slip Casting Moulds

Posted by neilestrick on 21 April 2016 - 11:20 AM


Just smiling re. posts about moulds and molds, not about to say anything but misuse has occurred in 2 posts

ANd another post has discolouration which may in fact be mould from the mold . MuY advise is to wash the mugs, not just the insides..

May be better time wise to just throw a lot of mugs and pick out the most similar, if the client is after identical..but chose you to make mugs, can't see the client's reasoning other than she likes your work so go throw mugs and let him select from a few... may not want them identical


Did anyone misuse the mould/mold word? I've always though that "mold" is used in the US and "mould" used everywhere else and both words mean the form(ing) of an object, the growth of the black stuff and moulding trim. Maybe the spelling has changed over the years?



That is my understanding as well. Mold/mould, color/colour, theater/theatre, etc.

#105444 Thinking Of Getting A Test Kiln, Pros, Cons?

Posted by neilestrick on 20 April 2016 - 10:13 AM

My little kiln is actually a Paragon A119B3 that I got for free from a customer. I have it hooked up to an external Orton controller that I got for free from another customer. I just got lucky on those.


Do not worry about shipping. I've never had a kiln damaged in shipping, because L&L uses good carriers. The little doll/test kilns are great kilns, built to the same standards as their larger kilns. A 9.5" diameter plate is the largest you could fit in one, or 3-4 mugs.

#105427 Bowl Signed, Studio Pottery, No Clue What It Is Please Help Id

Posted by neilestrick on 19 April 2016 - 08:35 PM

I would even go so far as to say it's a green bowl, with other colors. :D

#105379 Black Slip Turning Grey In Firing

Posted by neilestrick on 18 April 2016 - 12:42 PM

Underglazes are meant to be used as is. If you want to color a slip, use stain.