Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
michelek

Setting Up Studio In Basement

Recommended Posts

Greetings! I am not new to pottery but new to working at home. I have a wheel and space, the problem is my house was built in 1927 and doesn't have updated wiring. I don't believe any of the outlets throughout the house are even grounded. I'm looking to purchase a kiln next and am wondering which direction I'd be better off going.

 

My parents' house isn't far away (45 minute drive) and they have buildings on their property that would be great for housing a kiln. How feasible would it be to transport greenware in the car to their house for firing? And then do I need to babysit the kiln when it is firing? How long does that take?

 

Otherwise, I'm sure I would need to do something to update the electricity in the basement - regardless of anything else I would need to add an outlet somewhere. I'm not sure I want to invest the kind of money it might take to have an electrician come in and do a lot of work (not sure I even have enough amps...).

 

I'm sure I have more questions but that's all I can come up with at the moment!!

 

Thanks in advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with transporting green ware is you would lose some when it's green of course, but you would end up transporting it four times unless you set up your glazing area at your parents place. are your plans for running a business or just pleasure?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Transporting greenware is a real pain and something to be avoided with the extra handling, travel time and inevitable breakage.  

 

Assuming that you could fit a kiln load worth of pots in your car, when you factor in loading you are easily exceeding 2 hours round trip (likely more) for the bisque and another 90 minute round trip for the glaze firing. Then you have to go back after the glaze firing to pick up finished pots.  To me, that's a lot of time that could be spent making pots instead.  Ultimately, you need to factor in the value of your time and expenses associated with travel.

 

BTW, if you have to upgrade the electrical service, make sure you install enough capacity for any reasonable future growth. 

 

-SD 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Transporting glazed pieces is no treat, either. The glaze rubs off during transit. Have an electrician look at your wiring. It is possible that he can put in a sub panel just for the kiln and leave the rest. It may also be that the whole system will have to be done. Estimates are usually free, so get several.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I figured if my kiln was at my parents' house I would set up for glazing there too. But that's a good point about factoring in all of the time plus loss..

 

I will say hobby for now as it's been years but I would eventually like to sell and try some art shows.

 

Would a gas kiln be a better option than electric in order to have it at home? I'm sort of terrified my house will explode even if that is highly unlikely...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JBaymore

If the money for the electric system is holding you back... it will be cheap compared to doing a gas kiln correctly and safely.

 

best,

 

..............john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right. Thanks. I also just looked into gas kilns and don't want to deal with that anyways. Hopefully it's not too much of a big deal and isn't too expensive. But I'm glad to be talked out of having it at my parents' because I like going there to visit, not to work!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently setting up my first garage studio. I will be running a circuit in the garage especially for the kilns. For now I transport all my greenware to my dad's house to fire in his kiln; then I take them home to glaze them; then I take them back to glaze fire them. 

 

I'm grateful to have a way to fire them at all, but the process is really not fun and it takes me so much extra time.  I've had some greenware breakage and chipping every kiln load no matter how carefully I wrap everything. Also any that doesn't fit into the kiln then has to be transported again to my house till I have another load ready. It's going to be such a relief to finally have everything all in one place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depending on how old your wiring actually is, you may wish to upgrade anyway. I used to live in a house with 60amp service, and we couldn't use the toaster without tripping the circuit! And once you get the electrician there to do the work, you may as well have him wire for a kiln...no sense in paying for a second visit.

 

Good wiring also improves the resale value of your home, and if it's knob and tube now, you may also get a discount on your hazard insurance by upgrading!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our last house was  1927  knob and tube,  the kitchen was falling in when we bought it so it was the first project.  The old panel was in the basement so we had a new one panel and a sub panel for a kiln put in at the same time. When we tore out the ceiling they found that the knob and tube was in good shape. Our insurance company inspected it and said that if we put new wiring in the kitchen and bathroom we could leave the knob and tube in the rest of the house and get the rate for good wiring.  I always have my insurance company check my wiring and kiln set up, I don't want any misunderstandings if there is ever a fire.  Denice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I moved into a very old house this past year, around 85.  I had an electrician come and put in the wiring for the kiln.  The biggest expense was running the wiring 25ft from the fuse box.  Has to be special heavy duty wire. I got three estimates.  I line in Virginia and things here seem overly expensive to other places I live.  The cost was about $500. The last place I lived it was only $250, but they only had to run the wire about 10 ft. I figured it was cheaper than classes at a studio to use a kiln.  Plus I already have all the other studio equipment.  This is a rental, when I leave I will pay someone to remove the wiring and outlet and reuse it at my next location.  I am also in the basement.  Dark now that I covered the leaky windows with insulation.  You will also need a vent.  So make sure you also have an outlet and discharge location for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I transport my work both green and glazed right now, and while it really isn't my first choice of methods for ALL the reasons mentioned above, it can be done. Sometimes a less than ideal choice is still the best one available.

Some tips if you go this route:

Durability will depend in part on your clay's green strength. Some you can push harder than others. Don't make your boxes too big. Pack well, so that nothing rattles against anything else, and there's no undue pressure on any form that flares out. Do not place any load on wide rims. You can stack carefully, as long as the weight on the upper pieces rides on foot rims of the lower pieces. You will need a lot of newspaper for padding. Yes, you do need to wrap each piece. If in doubt, err on the side of caution, and allow yourself time to move carefully. I lose pieces mostly when I'm in a rush.

 

I like transporting glazed ware even less, so if you can glaze on the kiln site, so much the better. Glazes chip mostly off of rims, so bring a sandwich bag with a few tablespoons of glaze for touch ups. I use my finger for touchups mostly, rather than a brush, but I don't work with a lot of materials that leach in through the skin. Bring tight fitting gloves for safety.

I recently tried using spray starch on my glazed pots. I still had some chipping, but a lot less. It was kind of expensive in my opinion, and I've got enough practice going it without. I'll probably skip it in the future unless there's something I really can't afford to mess with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My home was to be a starter years ago, insulbrick siding, wood balloon frame construction. Actually 1/2 of a large home. Chimney in attic is marked 1897 in mortar. All was knob and tube. After many years of renovation,  most is now updated wiring, insulated, vinyl sided, with new window inserts. Basement was and still is unfinished-completely-dirt floor except in a few areas low ceilings made worse by added in heating and air conditioning duct work and water lines. So the separate brick garage was the only option for a shop. I put in a dedicated line and meter to the shop from the pole. Did the wiring inside myself with inspection by the electrician that put in the meter and trunk line. All GFD sockets, and sockets withing 6ft of each other. Two kilns, on separate breakers, box is 100 amp so I cannot fire both kilns at once.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Diesel what does " I used spray staerch on my glazed pots" mean ? Like ironing spray starch? Does it hold things together better? If yes dollar store , or make your own - no one bought laundry starch in the old days. So I looked up recipes, cornstarch is the main ingredient, if you want better suspension, heat the cornstarch and water. What I like is the mixture can have more cornstarch added , making it almost spray on glue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I transported pots for 2 years.  If something was going to break, it was a handle.  Every time.  But like everyone has said, it can be done.  Just carefully.  I used hairspray on newly glazed pieces to help prevent chipping. 

 

If you go ahead with the wiring and amp upgrade, don't have your kiln sitting there.  Just simply tell the electrician and the inspector that you need a 6&50 plug (or whatever you need).  I had my kiln sitting there, so the inspector made me direct wire the kiln.  Although, the rules vary from state to state, so it might not be an issue for you.  I live in Colorado. 

 

Roberta

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jolieo, I bought the aerosol laundry starch from the grocery store. It wasn't insanely priced, it was just another thing to have to pay for and do. Like I said, it'll be something I use on "high stakes" pieces, but for production stuff, I have enough practice doing it without. I can get by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow thank you for all of the responses!! I think what I will do is plan on getting the kiln now and having it at my parents. Since I'm just getting back into the swing of things nothing is going to be so important to me that if it breaks I'll be crushed (of course I say that now!). I will work towards the goal of having it in my home. But I need to just do this now or I fear I'll keep putting it off.

 

I visit my parents enough that I can probably just take whatever I have with me every time I go and eventually I'll have a full kiln load. They have plenty of room for me to store whatever I make and glazes so I wouldn't need to commute everything all of the time. And when the time is right my dad has a box truck and a regular truck and anything else I'd need to move it.

 

All of your advice has been super insightful and helpful now and going forward!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To transport greenware and glazed wares, I use the boxes vegetables are shipped in . . . I put a piece of 1/4" foam (from the fabric store) on the bottoms and place wares on the foam.  The foam prevents them from shifting around and serves as a nice cushion for road shock.  I also use pieces of foam cut into 1/2" to 1" strips to place between wares so edges do not not make contact and chip.  For glazed wares, use spray starch as noted or cheap hair spray.  Just put the glazed pot on your wheel or banding wheel, give it a slow spin, and spray.  The hair spray dries to a thin protective layer and burns off in the kiln without affecting the glaze.  When the hair spray is dry, put a plastic bag over the ware and pack it in the cushioned vegetable box.  For taller items, like vases, I use a wine box -- one with the 12 separate spaces for bottles.  I put the wares in a plastic bag (the ones your morning newspaper comes in are real handy) and then set them inside the wine box. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michelek: It sounds like you have a good plan! My life would definitely be easier if I could store the stuff at my dad's. The back-and-forth is what kills me. But sometimes it's more important to get started than to wait till everything's perfect. :) I get trapped by perfectionism if I'm not careful.

 

Bciske: I really like your suggestions for transporting. I've been thinking about cutting up a foam egg crate to pad the greenware. I already learned my lesson about stacking greenware no matter how much padding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I moved into a very old house this past year, around 85.  I had an electrician come and put in the wiring for the kiln.  The biggest expense was running the wiring 25ft from the fuse box.  Has to be special heavy duty wire. I got three estimates.  I line in Virginia and things here seem overly expensive to other places I live.  The cost was about $500. The last place I lived it was only $250, but they only had to run the wire about 10 ft. I figured it was cheaper than classes at a studio to use a kiln.  Plus I already have all the other studio equipment.  This is a rental, when I leave I will pay someone to remove the wiring and outlet and reuse it at my next location.  I am also in the basement.  Dark now that I covered the leaky windows with insulation.  You will also need a vent.  So make sure you also have an outlet and discharge location for it.

 

$500 is not at all unreasonable. It also depends on when you had them done. Around here when the economy tanked in 2008, labor prices for the trades went up very quickly. Plumbers, electricians, etc., all started to charging more to offset the fact they were having a hard time finding work. Prices for materials also went up, so thing like copper wire got expensive. In 2004 I spent about $4,000 to have a powered hood built and installed for my gas kiln. In 2008 when I moved my shop, they wanted double that to remove it and reinstall it in the new building, and it was a much simpler install. Around that same time, a friend of mine had to spend over $6,000 for a kiln hood that wasn't even powered, just a direct vent straight up through the roof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the suggestion for transport too! Also are packing peanuts a viable option? For instance, if I had a mug (or whatever) and I just carefully nestled it in a box with packing peanuts around it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.