Pottery Tips and Techniques
How To Keep A Kiln Firing Logbook
One of the easiest ways to learn about your kiln is to keep a firing logbook.
If you are firing the kiln for the first time in several months, you can look back in your logbook to see just how your kiln is firing.
The logbook is vital if you are experimenting with glazes or other materials also.
This sketch shows drawings I made of the inside of my kiln.
Paragon, which is a company that builds kilns, prints Ramp Hold and Cone Fire firing records for digital kilns.
You can download them from www.paragonweb.com.
Select “Support,” and then “Instruction Manuals” from the drop menu.
You can use firing records like this even for manual kilns.
Keep them in a three ring notebook.
You can also record a lot of information with a simple sketch.
I keep one for most of my firings, and they include the length of the firing, date and the highest temperature used for that firing.
I put a pyrometric cone on each shelf that is rated for the highest temperature to be achieved for that cycle and then I make a drawing like the one above and keep it in my notebook.
In your log book sketch, include shelf spacing inside the kiln including the height of posts, the type of ware on each shelf, a sketch of pyrometric cones showing how they bent and description of firing results on each shelf, such as color of glazes.
By sketching the bent cones, you won’t need to store the cones.
I also keep a kiln log so that I know how many times the kiln has been fired and the maximum temperature reached for each firing so I will know when to start checking my elements for wear.
Usually after about twenty firings the elements start to get brittle and sometimes break, so I will use a flashlight and mirror to look inside the groove where the element lays after each firing.
If I see a dark spot inside the groove I can be pretty sure that the element has broken and shorted out.
When this happens, it is very important that the element should either be replaced or repaired, because if it isn't, it will cause cold spots and uneven firing inside the kiln.
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Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.
The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.
With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.
When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.
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