It is very essential that you take absolute care for your kiln in order for you to work efficiently.
It is hence important to learn how to take care of a kiln as well as any other handmade pottery.
These are some of the factors you should take into consideration as you ensure proper functioning of your kiln.
Optimal Temperatures When Firing Wet Pottery
Explosions can’t be caused by the air pockets in clay. However, steam and other gases collected in the piece might lead to an explosion.
As the water in the clay is heated, it expands and hence turns to steam. The water might not have time to push from the piece and evaporate in case pottery is fired much quickly.
You should thus maintain the kiln’s temperature at below the boiling point of water for about eight hours and until all water has evaporated. You can then fire as per the correct temperatures.
Washing the Kiln
Making sure that your kiln shelves are clean and free of any glaze drips will ascertain longtime service from your kiln furniture. You should ensure that the kiln wash is applied to one side of the shelves only at first.
You will then be required to fire bisque with the unwashed side up while glazing fire with the washed side up. You can reduce warping by rotating the shelves.
In case the glaze drips on any part of the kiln shelf, you should immediately scrape it off then reapply kiln wash on that same part.
The Kiln Sitter Tube
You are recommended to always leave at least an inch of room around the kiln sitter tube for successful results. The temperature might not read accurately in case you place pottery too close to the kiln sitter tube.
It may also lead to jamming of the kiln sitter causing inefficiency in shutting off the kiln.
Listen to Your Kiln, literally
As you listen to your kiln, you are supposed to hear the buzzing of the elements, on and off clicking of the relays.
Just to make sure that your kiln is operating efficiently.
You will also get to know when something goes wrong by just listening to the kiln.
Fresh air is obviously a necessity during firing. In case you are firing the kiln in an enclosed space or room, it is important to leave the door or window open.
This will allow air entry into the kiln room hence ensuring proper ventilation. This applies most in case you have installed a vent since that vent removes air from the room and thus supply of fresh air becomes necessary.
Wearing Out of Thermocouples
With time, and especially at higher temperatures, thermocouples are expected to wear out. In case this happens, a FAIL message will be displayed. You might consider replacement if the thermocouple is corroded or crusty.
Thermocouple replacement is quite affordable and simple. It will also provide better accuracy on the side of your firing.
Loading the Kiln
It is important to ensure that glazed pottery does not touch anything while firing.
This can happen when loading the kiln, where bisque ware is stacked and may touch while firing.
Always make certain that you make use of at least a witness cone for each kiln load. This is useful since you’ll be able to know if the kiln is under or over fired when the firing doesn’t come out as expected.
Your kiln can provide service to you for a very long time, as long as you are able to take care and maintain it.
Kilns have low maintenance costs despite the fact that they give ultimate valuable services.
For your safety and great workflow in making handmade ceramics, it is important that you follow the above guidelines.