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Hello! Ive been building a home studio and am at the stage where I would really like a kiln (thinking the Skate KM-1027) but feel out of my depth. The studio I currently fire at is wildly unpredictable and I frequently come out with things that are unsaleable or they dont make it out of the fire at all. Im in Los Angeles and would love a mentor of sorts who could help me with the process. Anyone in LA?


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The  type of kiln you start with depends on your work,  if you do small batch functional work you might want to start with a smaller kiln.   What cone do you want to fire to?  Your electrical panel will also determine how large of kiln you can use.   The Skutt KM-1027 I believe takes a 60 amp breaker you may not have room in your panel for it.   Small kilns take smaller breakers,  there is also some low fire ones that can be plugged into a 15 amp outlet.   Do you have a garage or covered carport close to your electric panel box ?   I would have a electrician come out and check your electric box before you pick out a kiln.   You can get some literature on site requirement and wiring from the kiln manufacture,  you can probably find it online.      Denice

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Hi Kiki!

I have a KM-1027 (with 3 inch brick); it holds a lot, is still supported (it's over 30 years old; Skutt answers the phone - they're great!), and didn't break the bank. On the other hand, auto control would be nice, it does take up a lot of room, and isn't cheap to run. All in all, it was a good choice for me. At this point, looks like I'll choose the same size if/when the time comes, just add a controller; more likely I'll build a controller to add on, for I don't see anything to go wrong other than element replacement.

As for a mentor, might be hard to find! I'm still new to ceramics - coming up will be two years - this forum has been very helpful, also two semesters at the local JC, many books, articles, and You Tube. There are many potters in our area, however, haven't made any bff relationships just yet ...the instructor and students at the JC were great to be with and around - good experience for me.

Any road, take your time! Home studio - easy to keep clean, lots of storage/shelving (I built on the walls, mostly - leaves the floor clear), lots of counter, logical workflow, music, warm/cool, clean, did I say clean? :O Uh-oh, better mop today! Good ventilation, especially kiln fumes...

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Last year, I went through your process.  I visited a ceramic artist I know to see his kiln...he is prolific and works out of smaller kiln.  It was helpful for me to see what he was able to produce in one kiln load.   So I finally decided to go with an  Olympic MAS 1827. 

When I decided which kiln, I printed the specs  and had an electrician take care of all of the wiring. 

As for a mentor, I second Hulk's recommendation for taking a class.  We have a great community art school here....I took classes and fired in their studio for a long time.  Also learned how to make glazes, load and unload kilns by trading work time for the fees to be there.

I move like a glacier when it comes to getting this all going...so I just did my first bisque firing and plan to do my first glaze firing later this week.

Best of luck on your venture!  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Kiki,

I'm a newbie too and I'm in the process of setting up my home studio.  I am currently practicing (...and practicing, and practicing) making small functional pieces,  i.e. mugs, bowls, tumblers, pitchers, etc. I acquired a very old and very manual  7cu. ft. gas kiln from a local potter who couldn't operate it any longer.  The price, $0.00, was right, but I discovered that at my current level, 7 cu. ft. is a bit on the large side. I'm a little slow, and I don't have a lot of spare time yet to practice as much as I should, so it takes a while to get a full load together. Also the kiln is so manual that I have to constantly manipulate it to get the right heat/work/time ramp.  I'm learning a lot about gas firing probably in the most difficult way, but I enjoy learning and using low-tech because it gets me closer to the process and makes me think (harder).  

Just this last weekend I bought a used Cress model  FX23p electric kiln. It is half the volume and 1/3 the outer size of my gas kiln and a lot easier to load and operate. I'm in the process of a bisque firing as I type this! It was very lightly used and in excellent shape, and a good price at $600 because it included a lot of kiln furniture and extras that I can use for both kilns. The reason I bought a smaller, electric kiln is that I wanted more versatility.  I already know what types of glazes and atmospheres I want to use. The manual kiln is fine, but it takes longer to fill and fire. I can use the electric for all my bisque as well as fire to ^6 for oxidation glazes. I want to use the gas kiln mostly for ^6 & ^10 reduction glaze firings.  I have the best of both worlds (I think). Lucky for me I found good deals on both kilns so my studio budget for kilns so far with purchase, repairs/upgrades has only cost me about $800 (so far). I'm very handy and mechanically skilled so I do the upgrade/repair work myself. I was also lucky to have the correct wiring already in my garage studio so the electrical work was already done. You can pick up some really good deals on Craigslist for used kilns, but you need to decide the kind of work you will be doing. I don't necessarily recommend this for your or anyone else's situation, I'm just an equipment nerd who can't pass up a deal. ...and the wheel I use is an old Laguna kick wheel which was also a craigslist find for ~$300, so the most modern equipment in my studio right now is probably the 20yr old kiln! 

Sorry, I'm a bit verbose I know, but I guess it comes down to figuring out what it is you ultimately want to produce, and how much capacity you need to produce. You can buy and grow into a larger kiln if you determine you will be cranking out functional production ware for sale. You may also want to determine your costs of operation of one size over another. I have noticed that many of the potters I follow on YouTube have kilns in the 3.5 cu ft size and turn out a lot of ware frequently. 

Hulk and Igusten gave solid advice to consider. I find this forum and YouTube to be excellent resources too. Lots of inspiration and technical knowledge to be found. I'm close to L.A. too and there is a surprising dearth of pottery resources around after you've gone the Parks&Rec. / JC route.  There are artist coops/studio complexes around, and they will likely have a studio or 2 giving classes on ceramics. The fees are a bit steep compared to the JC/Parks classes, but you can get great instruction from a local artist who knows the terrain. I recently contacted a local potters guild and I will be attending my first meeting next week in hopes that I will be able to network with like-minded, experienced folk and maybe get to shadow a few in their studios. Research, research, research.

OK, nuff said!  Best of luck to you! Forward!

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hello, and welcome to the forums.    the advice you have been given is excellent.     get info on what guild meeting  genboomxer will be attending and go together.    guilds are great.   each one is different because they are run by the members themselves.   some are great at one thing and the one down the road is great at another.   you will benefit in some way by being a member of a guild even if you think you are too much of a beginner to understand everything at the meeting.    you will be among people who have been where you are now and i have never met an unfriendly potter in a guild.

use the private message here on the forums to contact any member to ask questions of that particular individual.

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