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terahstrauss

Elem Art Teacher firing schedule

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Hi everyone! 

I am an elementary art teacher working on a clay project as we speak. My admin seems a little uncomfortable with me firing during the day while students are in my room, so I am curious on if any others have found ways to get around this. 

I read somewhere that for a cone 04 bisque, another teacher was doing the initial long soak over night, turning the kiln off in the am, and then I guess doing the remainder of the firing over the following night.  I've never heard of this, but am curious if it is even possible - and if so, how to properly go about it. 

 

Thanks for all your help!

Terah

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Does the kiln have a programmer?  Or do you have to turn switches as the firing progresses?

If programmer, set it to start as you leave for the day.  It will be done by the time you return in the morning.

I fire a kiln in a community centre, and they don't like the smell, so at midday on Wednesday it gets switched on with a 54 hour delay, and fires over the weekend when the craft room is not in use.  Works fine.

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I wouldn't leave a kiln firing unattended other than for doing a candling (preheat).

What is it about firing that the admin is concerned about? Is the kiln vented? Is it located where children could accidentally come too close to it?

Edited by Min

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Hi Terah - what lucky kids, to have a ceramics studio in elementary school! 

That long soak may be the candling phase - keeping the kiln under 200F to make sure all of the ware is actually dry.  This is probably especially useful if the kids are making thick or heavy sculptures that might take weeks to dry on their own. So the overnight candling, followed by full day of drying out before firing probably helps in making sure the work doesn't crack or explode during the actual firing. 

 

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It is a kiln that can be programmed, but my issue is that the bisque program  I use has a 12 hr soak to ensure the ware is actually dry, and then begins to move toward cone 04.  This means it will not be done if I start it in the afternoon and then come in the next morning. It will likely take a full day. (Average for this program is 20hr -22 hr) 

Yes the room is vented, and it is in a locked room within the art classroom. I think it is the uncertainly of the kiln for inexperienced individuals, therefore, I am trying to figure out ways to complete the work around their comfort level. 

Has anyone ever done a soak, stop the kiln, and then continued firing later? Historically for my personal work I start a bisque and return 1.5-2 days later, so I'm at a loss for best practices in a school setting. 

Thank you SO much for all the input - any and all helps! 

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14 hours ago, terahstrauss said:

 12 hr soak to ensure the ware is actually dry, and then begins to move toward cone 04.  This means it will not be done if I start it in the afternoon and then come in the next morning. It will likely take a full day. (Average for this program is 20hr -22 hr) 

 

Do you need to fire more than once a week?  If no, switch it on at 5pm on Friday.

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20 hours ago, terahstrauss said:

It is a kiln that can be programmed, but my issue is that the bisque program  I use has a 12 hr soak to ensure the ware is actually dry, and then begins to move toward cone 04.  This means it will not be done if I start it in the afternoon and then come in the next morning. It will likely take a full day. (Average for this program is 20hr -22 hr) 

Yes the room is vented, and it is in a locked room within the art classroom. I think it is the uncertainly of the kiln for inexperienced individuals, therefore, I am trying to figure out ways to complete the work around their comfort level. 

Has anyone ever done a soak, stop the kiln, and then continued firing later? Historically for my personal work I start a bisque and return 1.5-2 days later, so I'm at a loss for best practices in a school setting. 

Thank you SO much for all the input - any and all helps! 

Here is a thought
Since you have an automatic controller you could run a dry out program single segment let’s say 50 degrees per hour to 200 degrees, hold for 8 hours at 200 overnight on the first day.

 On the next day run a standard bisque program when you leave or school gets out. The standard bisque should take about 12 hours overnight.

All the firing can take place while the kids are away.

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bummer they are so closed minded about it, the first 12 hours it is like a household oven on warm (under 190ish) drying out the clay. If you start it at 8 am it is not actually firing until 8 that night and be done at 6 am the next morning.

Have you considered letting the stuff completely dry and skip the long soak altogether and just fire overnight. It might be good for the kids to learn how to deal with drying times and help the process along on things like sculptures by hollowing them out properly etc

 

Edited by Stephen

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39 minutes ago, Stephen said:

bummer they are so closed minded about it, the first 12 hours it is like a household oven on warm (under 190ish) drying out the clay. If you start it at 8 am it is not actually firing until 8 that night and be done at 6 am the next morning.

Have you considered letting the stuff completely dry and skip the long soak altogether and just fire overnight. It might be good for the kids to learn how to deal with drying times and help the process along on things like sculptures by hollowing them out properly etc

 

I was just thinking about this today. I think this may be my best option as I have certainly been able to leave the pieces out for enough time to be bone dry. Also, do you mind sharing your bisque program? I think mine may be too conservative. 

Edited by terahstrauss

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2 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

Here is a thought
Since you have an automatic controller you could run a dry out program single segment let’s say 50 degrees per hour to 200 degrees, hold for 8 hours at 200 overnight on the first day.

 On the next day run a standard bisque program when you leave or school gets out. The standard bisque should take about 12 hours overnight.

All the firing can take place while the kids are away.

So turn the kiln off after the first night? Or leave it for a long hold?  Thanks for your help! 

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45 minutes ago, terahstrauss said:

So turn the kiln off after the first night? Or leave it for a long hold?  Thanks for your help! 

You could turn it off if that makes everyone feel better. Your goal with the long hold is to dry them very slowly and thoroughly. Once done, you can fire anytime you want after that as long as you don’t re wet the pieces.
 

@Stephen seemed to have a great idea, especially if you have an automatic controller. Start your normal bisque when you get in, hold or preheat your first segment for lets  say 8 or 10 hours And it will finish your bisque overnight. Cool down generally takes 24 to 32 hours depending  size and loading so two fires per week are possible.

If your kiln has an automatic controller you should be able to run the standard slow bisque  program with a ten or more hour preheat and can even program it to delay start to shift the firing a bit. A normal bisque program would run approximately 13 hours.

Ive attached the slow bisque program used in the Bartlett controller below but note the first segment already include a dry out segment that lasts for more than two hours. (A go slow to 250 degrees segment)

9FA4474C-2907-4277-9AA8-E990869BCEBA.jpeg

Edited by Bill Kielb

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The most important thing is to be there around when the kiln is shutting off, to make sure it did indeed shut off when it should have. That may mean doing a delayed start so that the kiln is just finishing up when you arrive in the morning. If you fire overnight on Friday, you need to go in on Saturday to check it.

Firing overnight is the exact opposite of what most schools demand. Most schools want it firing while the teacher is in the building so they can check on it and make sure there's nothing bad happening. Especially since the kiln room is locked, there's no reason to fire overnight. If you fire during the day, you'll still want to time it so that the kiln is finishing up before you head home in the evening. The delayed start function is handy. It's just a countdown timer, so you'll have to math it out.

Since you have a digital kiln, the fast bisque or medium speed firing (depends on which controller you have) will work for most situations. For really thick or large pieces you may want to go slower. If your controller allow you to add in a preheat time, add a preheat for just an hour or two if things might not be totally dry. You shouldn't need a 12 hour preheat unless things are really wet. The preheat takes 2 hours to get to about 200F, then goes into the hold time you program in. So the entire preheat takes 2 hours longer than what you program in. If your controller does not have a preheat option, then do a custom program and put in a preheat as the first step.

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As Neil has said, most districts prefer the teacher to be firing during the day. I fired at my HS for 36 years with several different kilns over the years. All firings were during the day, but I would start my firings the night before with the "candling"  bottom switch on low, and lid  2" propped. Next morning the firing would move through a standard schedule as my kiln was not programmable in the day.

There have been some times when I would work late and the firings would end around 9 pm, but I was usually in the building doing sets for the drama department.  Later on the janitors and admin decided kilns could be fired through the night without me being there, but I always had a good idea when I should reach temp, and would set the timer on the setter to 30 minutes more. This was not the greatest of methods, but it did save the kiln one time when the kiln setter drop tab was leaning inward instead of straight thus not dropping down.

With proper ventilation in the kiln area there should not be a problem for student or you being there. Did it for years in the same room as the kids, and then later in a separate glaze/throwing room.

 

best,

Pres

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