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Everything posted by SunsetBay

  1. Thanks. I've adjusted the thermocouple offsets before--back when I first got the kiln (about 2 years ago)--with help from Rob Battey, whom L&L connected me to at the time. I will check the actual thermocouples in their tubes now.
  2. Thanks, Neil. I'm not sure I have enough patience or determination for a level of commitment that would warrant spending the money on a test kiln...not yet, anyway. I'm thinking I will continue by including test tiles in my regular glaze firings, and maybe stick with the programmed glaze schedule until I see where I might want to change things by slow cooling. Not sure yet. I get over-eager sometimes and want to rush to results, which I know isn't the best way. The top section of the kiln seems cooler at all temperatures. I guess I'll have to remember how the thermocouple offsets work and experiment with that (in small increments. First I have to figure out which physical thermocouple is attached to which one in the controller; presumably, I can see that on the original diagram I used to wire it all up when I got the kiln. Then I'll go from there. Thanks again.
  3. One of the reasons I replaced my old manual kiln was that I wanted to experiment with slow cooling. But my new L&L kiln with 3" bricks cools so slowly on its own, I'm wondering what advantage there would be, if any, to programming a slow cool. I don't produce enough fast enough to do a lot of experimenting with the kiln, unless firing an almost-empty kiln is acceptable. Which I always thought was not ideal, for a variety of reasons. I've tried both the pre-programmed medium and slow glaze-fire programs, and haven't seen a significant difference in results. Also, based on witness cones, the top shelf is not getting as hot as the rest of the kiln--I'm assuming this is due to the open peephole at the top. The difference can be as much as half a cone (if that description makes any sense). Is there something I should/can be doing to "fix" that? Change the TC offset on the top thermocouple? Something else? At the moment, I can't work with clay as I am dealing with a painful case of trigger thumb. I have 3 more weeks to wait before my appointment with the hand doc, so I'm getting lost in the rabbit hole of thinking about pottery, learning and planning. I'll probably be here with questions a lot!
  4. Too late--I went with Bailey. But thanks for your input. New wheel was delivered today; I can't wait to get home and open the box!
  5. Thanks, everyone. It occurs to me that I have been so uncertain because it's such a high-ticket item, and yet I don't worry nearly so much when I have to choose appliances like a new refrigerator or dryer (both happened in the past two years). I guess I assume that those appliances are necessary, while a new wheel is not, since my old one works fine. Seems like I should maybe adjust my priorities. :-) I know I want the new wheel to have adjustable leg extensions. Since I don't know yet if I'm going to want to throw standing up, sitting, or somewhere in between, I want to be able to experiment a little more easily than by having to deal with things like cinder blocks or solid, single-height stands. I know that the leg extensions aren't a 1-2-3, adjust on the fly solution, but they still seem to make more sense to me--especially as I suspect that I am going to want to switch things around every few months or so (that's my back speaking). I think I am going to go for the Bailey. It's more in my price range, and I like what I've heard about it. I love the idea of the removable wheel head on the Skutts, but I don't think I love it enough to pay more. I don't care about the flakeboard counter--it comes "free" with the wheel, so that's just a bonus, considering that I've been working for years with only a small side table on either side of my wheel. If I don't like the Bailey counter, I can always replace it or get rid of it altogether. So I guess I've made my decision, or most of it. I'll give Bailey a call to help me figure out which model to order. Thanks again for all the advice!
  6. I learned on a Brent, initially, and then bought my first wheel at NCECA: a Shimp VL-lite. I've loved it, overall, but I'm tired of the leaking splash pan. I don't have the option to try things out in advance--not and get something soon, and I've been given the gift of the money now. I can't figure out what the references to flakeboard can be. The shelf--obviously, but no surprise there. But in the wheel itself? That makes no sense. At the moment, I'm leaning toward Bailey, because of the general good reviews and the price. I will call them and discuss it.
  7. I already read through that post, but I'm not seeing where it explains any real problem with flakeboard. The Baileys get such good reviews, and they're definitely cheaper... I do like the removable wheel head on the Skutt, though. So, Neil, you seem to prefer the Skutt, too. Any thoughts about the Baileys?
  8. I am trying to decide which new wheel to buy. I am looking at the Bailey PRO-50R, the Bailey PRO X, the Skutt Steven Hill Signature, and the Skutt Elite. I definitely want the leg extensions, regardless (the Skutt Steven Hill comes with them). I like the built-in one-piece splash pan. The Bailey splash pan has a drain hole and an opening to sweep out trimmings. The Skutt has an easily removable wheel head. I'm not sure how to decide, so I'm looking for input. Anyone have experience with any or all of these? Thanks!
  9. I think that is what has been happening to me--just thinking about making so many changes! I think I will take your advice and go back to the schedule that seemed to be working, test new glazes, and go on from there. At the moment, I don't sell that much; I'm not a production potter, it's been more of an avocation for me, and somehow this summer got too busy to keep up with pottery. I would like to get myself on more of a schedule in the studio though, and go back to where I'm making more, as I seem to have done a few years ago. So...making money is not the primary goal at the moment. When I need to get finished stuff out of the way, then I'll need to sell! But I think I will take your advice and go back to the schedule that seemed to be working, test new glazes, and go on from there. Thanks for your insight and advice!
  10. So I'm thinking this will be my new experimental plan: Make a bunch of test tiles and small test cylinders (cups, yunomi, vases, whatever). Make other pieces as usual. Test glazes first on tiles and small cylinders, while using "tried and true" glazes on pieces that I don't want to risk (even if I dream of them looking more wonderful with my own glazes!). Try out so-far-successful test glazes on pieces I feel I can risk. And on and on, following the same cycle. Try to keep a balance so that each glaze firing includes a variety of tests as well as hoped-for "good" pieces. Does that make sense? But this still doesn't solve my problem about how to test firing schedules. How would I incorporate that?
  11. Okay, what's the best way to experiment with firing schedules vs. new glazes?
  12. Commercial dipping glazes just seem so expensive! I've been using Amaco Potters Choice and Celadons mostly, and on top of the extra cost, they claim the formulation of the dipping glazes doesn't allow for the same results as the brushing in terms of layering and the interaction between glazes. Just out of curiosity, what is your "standard cone 5 with 20 minute hold schedule," and what does that 20-minute hold do in terms of final cone results? I tend to be drawn to blues and greens that run together nicely. Do you have any pictures of VG rutile green over variegated blue? Or any other suggestions? I'll try Pinterest, and check out other sites, as well. Thanks!
  13. I've tried some of them in the past but didn't fall in love. Except with a version of Van Gilder's oribe green that I mixed wrong and haven't been able to replicate! Lately I've been experimenting with John Britt's book EXPLORING MID-RANGE GLAZES and wondering if I should try seeing what's available on Glazy.org. (I've looked at the Ceramic Recipes here on the Ceramic Arts Network, but I've found it a bit difficult/annoying to navigate.) My goal is to switch to dipping, which is the way I learned. I am tired of brushing... Btw, thanks for your help! :-)
  14. I had all the test tiles on one shelf, but the kiln wasn't as full as I'd have liked--in addition to not having anything particularly tall in this load, I've been using new Advancer shelves, which leave me more room for another level than I'm used to, so I've been underestimating the amount of work I can comfortably fit into a glaze kiln! When I was loading the kiln, I thought about adding another shelf on top and just putting extra furniture on it, but then didn't bother. I intend to make a bunch of test shot glasses. I think I will also concentrate my glaze-search efforts on making test glazes, as much as I don't love the process, rather than continuing to try various combinations of commercial glazes. And for actual work, I'll just use the tried-and-true (if not super dear to my heart) commercial glazes. I guess that sounds like a plan.
  15. After a summer without enough pottery time, I finally got around to a glaze firing including some commercial glazes and a bunch of test tiles using glazes I mixed up myself. I've also been experimenting with firing schedules. Based on some previous experiments, I tried using the E3 schedule from John Britt's glaze book, only with the top temp changed to 2210 degrees F (based on advice from L&L's tech) and a 10-minute hold at 1900 degrees F (can't remember where I got that idea). The exported log file tells me the highest temp I reached was 2209. My cones tell me the kiln was at a hot ^5 (I've been trying to reach closer to ^6 in a kiln that has had a tendency to overfire). I'm not loving the results and I'm contemplating messing with the glazes and refiring the pieces I don't like that much. I guess my main question is: When you move on to glazing actual pieces after getting results you like well enough on test tiles, what do you do when the final results aren't what you like? How many pieces do I dare risk with experimenting with firing schedules and temps? How do you do all that experimenting WITHOUT risking too many "real" pieces? I'm starting to think I should chicken out and go back to only commercial glazes and my kiln's preprogramed "slow glaze" program. But I'm tired of brushing glazes and interested in finding the color and combos I especially like for myself. Not sure where to go from here. Any guidance (or encouragement!) would be appreciated.
  16. When I choose "Export Log File" (or whatever the controller calls it), the info that shows up on my phone includes something like the past 10 firings, and each has a hotlink to download--but only the most recent worked. That's why I was wondering about being able to look at the older info and compare it. Not important: I just got curious. Thanks!
  17. I worked out the TC offset with the tech L&L sent me to when I first bought the kiln. I suppose one of these days I could open up the controller and check on the thermocouples again. I just did a bisque firing to 04, and based on the cones, it was perfect. Overall, using the preset Cone 6 program, the results have been close to 6--my guess, again based on the cones, 5.5 or hotter. I've been experimenting with custom programs, though, so I started getting confused by the whole thing. Maybe I'm overthinking it. When I emptied the kiln yesterday, the controller was saying the temp inside was around 140 degrees F. But nothing was all that hot to the touch, so I got to wondering if the TC offset means the interior temperature was actually only 82. Again, I guess it doesn't make a difference. I just get frustrated when I feel I've only wrapped my brain partly around an issue! Thanks for your help.
  18. I exported my latest firing info, but I'm not clear on how to read it. I see the temps for the three thermocouples, but what is SP, and what are Out 1, 2, 3, and 4? What does the time column represent? Can anyone explain this? Also, I could only export the data on my most recent firing, though all the others show up when I look for them. Does anyone know why the older firing info won't export/download? I am up to date on my firmware. Just trying to figure stuff out, but I feel like the more I read, the more confused I get. From the start of this new kiln (a year ago), L&L tech suggested I change my TC offsets, since the first few firings, including the first test firing, showed that the kiln was overfiring. So I'm at a TC offset of 58. Things have been pretty good, so maybe that's fine. But I'm confused about how to read the temperatures. If the controller tells me the kiln is at, say 2200, does that mean it's really at 2142? When I use the preset cone programs, is Cone 6 what Cone 6 is supposed to be? (Mostly, so far, yeah--but lately I've been experimenting with my own programs...in which case, how do I choose the temperature numbers for the programs? I think I've been using the numbers I've been seeing online--like via John Britt, for example--but should I be subtracting or adding 58, to account for the TC offset? The more I think about it, the more stupid I feel... Any help/explanations would be welcome!
  19. So my pieces didn't stick when I used wax resist with alumina hydrate added, but the self-supporting cones plucked! Suggestions? Maybe I should just put wash on the shelves after all...
  20. It occurs to me to ask: Does this problem of porcelain plucking occur during all firing, or just glaze firing? Meaning: Is it something to worry about during a bisque firing? Thanks!
  21. Thanks, Mark. I'm going to experiment with the hydrate/wax mixture on the feet before I decide whether to kiln wash the shelves.
  22. It has been suggested that I cover the feet of my wares with wax resist with some alumina hydrate mixed in, rather than apply kiln wash to the shelves. Also that I apply kiln wash to the tops and bottoms of my kiln furniture (though I'm not sure how important that might be, as of course the kiln furniture isn't porcelain). As for storage, I'm storing the shelves upright on wooden supports in the garage. I don't think they're touching any concrete below, and behind the first one is the firewall material we put in around the kiln. The only moisture that gets into the garage is snow melt from the car tires sometimes, or occasional rain washing in if it's windy and the door is open. I'm wondering if there's more I should be doing for shelf storage... I haven't used the new shelves yet.
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