Monday, 31 May 2010


I'm having palpitations, my stomach is in knots, I'm dripping in sweat and I'm hyperventilating, and I want to burst into tears. It can only mean one thing - I'm firing my kiln today for the first time!! I thought this was suposed to be fun??

I had a look on the internet last night to see what I could find out about firing damp pots. A couple of people stated that they put their kiln on "a slow bisque firing" and everything was ok. Not very helpful is it? I can only assume these people actually have a setting on their kiln that says "slow bisque fire"!! Well, rightly or wrongly, I have set my first ramp at 30c up to 100c, and then 50c up to 300, then 100c up to 600, and full up to 1000c. Scott helped me load the kiln, because I can't actually reach the bottom!

Edit: A big thank you to Kim for her advice on this. I have now altered my program to soak at 90c for 30 mins, but I will keep checking for moisture and will alter the program accordingly. Thankfully I can change the program even while the kiln is firing. Thank you so much Kim!

How come I've worked so hard for so long and produced so few pieces?

This firing has every ingredient for disaster - I've repaired pots that were bone dry, a couple of the pots aren't dry enough, and the kids pieces are probably full of air bubbles - and yet I'm hoping for a miracle!

Here are the jugs/pitchers by the way, finally finished with their handles.

And here is the comparison to the previously made jug.

The spout and collar is much bigger this time round, and I think the "bowl" part looks rounder. Scott thinks they look better this time, and so do I. I probabaly should have made a stencil to use in the future. Oh well.

Wish me luck with the firing!! You never know, I might even have some clay time today - I'm going to have a long wait watching the kiln!!


Kim Hines said...

haven't read through your whole post yet, but i put my kiln on low w/ peeps open and the lid propped till all moisture is out of the pots. the idea is to keep the temp below boiling point so the pot doesn't explode. test the moisture by plugging all but the top hole, and close the lid. hold a mirror or glass up to the top hole to see if it fogs up. if so there's still water in there, open up the lid and peeps till it's gone. will check back later to read the rest, gotta cook the kids breakfast...

Undaunted said...

Kim, thank you so much for this advice! I have altered my kiln settings now - thankfully I can change it even while it's firing. I've programed it to soak at 90c for 30 mins, but I will keep checking and alter it accordingly. Thank you again.

Kim Hines said...

no problem, be prepared for some breakage though,esp when drying pots quickly. and don't worry about the airbubbles in anything, it doesn't cause pots to explode like people think. it's the moisture in a pot that will make it explode.

and do the same warm up if you put freshly glazed bisque in the kiln, the water in the pot will cause it to explode and then you've got a real mess on your hands. you can ruin a whole kiln load that way and your elements too. i'll sometimes dry out glazed pieces in my oven before putting in the kiln just to be safe. what temp are you firing to anyway? i've been thinking stoneware cause that's what i work in...

Undaunted said...

No, it's earthenware. I'm firing to 1000c for the bisque firing. I think that may be a little high, but I use brush on glazes anyway. Then I'll have to read up about glaze firing!! I'll check the temperature on the glazes, but my tutor always used to fire to about 1020c. I've read that I can ramp up the temperature quicker for glaze firing? How long would you usually leave glazed pieces before firing them? I'm thinking I'll glaze tomorrow and fire on Wednesday.

I still have plenty of moisture coming out of the kiln. It's been soaking for about an hour so far. I have a feeling it's going to be a long evening!!

Thanks again for all your help Kim, I really appreciate it :)

Kathy L said...

OH you go! Keeping my fingers crossed (again) and hoping you have some beauties...and even if (and I said if) something should break...its a learning curve, right?

Undaunted said...

That is very true Kathy, although it might take me some time to see it that way!

I'm still in a heightened state of anxiety, although I'm not quite panicking like I was earlier. I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight!!