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WoodlandPotter

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    Georgia, USA

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  1. I used to do a lot of pinch and slab little sculpture pieces, with whatever clay was on hand in the high school pottery shop. Nice moist clay out of a newly opened bag was generally already too dry for such fine, detailed sculpture work. If I started with the clay as is, before I knew it, the clay would start cracking and drying and you couldn't do very much with it. The smaller the pinched object, the worst it was. I quickly learned to prepare the clay first. I used to spend a decent amount of time kneading additional water into the clay ball to get it really soft and plastic. Really worked it until it was extraordinarily pliable, just a touch above sticky. Then I would pull off a piece and start making impossible things. Things people said you couldn't do with ordinary pottery clay. Yeah, you can. Crazy long, thin rolls of clay that I could bend and twist, and do all kinds of things, with nary a crack. Once the objects were finished, I would put them in tiny plastic tents and mist spray them occasionally to slow the drying. I had very little trouble with cracks. Seemed to me that as long as I staved off cracking during the making, the objects would dry and survive the firings just fine.
  2. What kind of wifi cam are you using to monitor your digital  controller? I just installed one yesterday but did  something wrong and the red LED display is hazy on camera. I suspect it's too far from the controller; it's about 5 feet away on a  bookshelf. It's a cheap model that nicely pans and  zooms, and it supposedly has  HD. You put yours on a tripod, yes? My iPhone held up to the controller captures the numbers fine so I suspect the problem is the distance from the lens to the readout. 

    1. Min

      Min

      @Barclay Blanchard, doesn't look like @WoodlandPotter has seen your question. Maybe someone else is using a wifi cam to monitor their controller, might be worth posting your question in the Studio Operations and Making Work section.

  3. Wow... really hoping, Jothamhung, that your kiln and ware escape serious harm. I have had firings go wrong over the many years, both with my manual kiln and the digital that replaced it. Fortunately, I have been on hand and been able to take action immediately, saving the loads. I always set witness cones, with at least one pack viewable from, preferably, the top peep hole. I always peer at the cones sets during the latter part of the firings, making sure everything is on track. This is so I can make adjustments, or shut off the kiln, if necessary. On my manual kiln, I always set the timer to one hour beyond the expected total firing time. Always checked and double checked the placement of the cone in the kiln sitter and that I was using the correct cone. On my digital kiln, I set the program and double check it before starting. Every firing I use a surveillance camera on a tripod set up pointing at the digital controller screen. With an app on my iPhone I can check in and see how the firing is going, saving me from having to go out to the shop to check the kiln. The camera and app work over my own WiFi system and that is good enough because I never, ever leave to do anything when the kiln is firing. I always fire my kilns during the overnight hours. Electricity is cheaper during off peak times and the flow is more reliably stable, with less chance of fluctuations that can impact the firings. I can also devote myself fully to the firing, with no distractions, as I am either sleeping, or checking the kiln. During my manual kiln firing years, I would set all my alarms in advance, wake up, go out three times during the night to turn the switches and check all is well, and then go right back to bed. Firing my digital kiln is easier, as whenever I wake up, I reach for my phone and check to see what the current temperature is and that the firing is going as planned. This is great as I don't even have to get out of bed. All the firings end in the morning. I don't even get dressed most times. Just sit out in the shop and watch the kiln finish firing, sipping coffee, in my pajamas. I got so good at predicting the end of a firing with my manual kiln that I was nearly always present when the weight dropped, shutting off the kiln. Every time, it would snap and I would jump! Every time! With the digital, I am nearly always present for when the controller suddenly stops the firing and blinks CPLT, alternating with the current temperature of one of the thermocouples. Because I am there, I can record the exact temperature that the kiln reached at time of shut off. I always put the last plug into the top peep hole, usually within a minute of finishing firing, so the kiln can cool as slow as possible. And I keep detailed records of every firing. I have records going back decades. My respect for what can go wrong is too much for me to not stay on top of things, that's for sure. Thanks for being patient reading this long response.
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