Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Load An Electric Kiln

I am taking a night class at our local community college for ceramics. My emphasis in college was clay, and I loved hand building but I constantly struggled with throwing on the wheel. I am left handed and for some reason could not get the hang of it. But once I started taking this night class, with only three other students, the one on one attention helped me a lot and it is so much cheaper taking my class at the community college then at the university.

This week we did a bisque firing, the firing before the glaze. Here is how we did it.

First make sure your clay is bone dry, here is my work waiting to be put in the kiln.

These are the posts that you will put in between the shelving, so the work doesn't touch the bottom or the top of the kiln. Notice the different sizes, we used the smallest size first before we put the shelving in. (You have to put four posts in before you begin to put the shelving in.)

We made sure that our posts weren't lined up where the holes were on the right of this picture, but also that they were evenly spread out along the sides of the kiln so shelving would stay upright.

Shelving comes in two parts, make sure that your shelving is level so it doesn't fall.

We then choose six in post so that our large clay items could fit in the first loading of our kiln. Making sure your posts are taller than your work is very important, so it doesn't smash it! * A good way to see if your pieces are taller than the posts is to put an extra post where your work is that you want to place in the kiln and place it next to it before you put it into the kiln to measure so you don't have to eyeball. 

(this level of shelving we used four inch posts since the work was shorter than the first level)

During a bisque firing, things can touch, clay shrinks about 12% when fired and since there is no glaze on your work there is no fear of items sticking together.

We wanted to get as much of everyone's work into the kiln so we stacked a bunch of the stuff, since there is no fear of the work sticking together you can do this. Just make sure that the items you place on top (or in, in the case of the bowls) are lighter then the pieces that you are putting them in to ensure that they don't crack.

When your pieces are good and packed in and not over the top of your kiln so they don't get squished.

Program your kiln to your proper time and temperature and you are set to jet!

I will update this with our pieces when they come out of the kiln.

Hope you have an awesome weekend, LKC

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