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Kiln Sitter

Before we had computerized kilns, pottery workers had to more or less baby sit their kilns.
There was a knob on the side that had low, medium and high and each of the three settings would produce a certain temperature if left for a specified length of time.

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After the kiln was loaded and closed, the kiln was set on low for an hour and then turned to medium for an hour and high for one, two or three hours depending on how high of a temperature was needed to fire the kiln load and one had to be sure and remember to turn it off, because the kiln had to be manually turned off. If it was forgotten it could get so hot it would melt the whole kiln load or even burn the place down.

Then ta-dah!!!!!

Here comes the kiln sitter. Sounds like somebody had to sit on top of the kiln huh? Nope, it was just a square box called a kiln sitter with sensing rod that protruded out the back. A hole was drilled in the side of the kiln to fit the diameter of the sensing rod and the kiln sitter was secured to the side of the kiln and hooked up to the electrical circuit of the kiln. The kiln sitter's sensing tube projects through the wall to the inside of your kiln's firing chamber.

kiln sitter 3 kiln sitter

kiln sitter 2


Using a pyrometric cone as its triggering mechanism, it turns off your kiln at the desired point of maturity. Cones, originally a German invention, have been the traditional means of judging the firing process for many years. Special smaller size cones have been developed for the kiln sitter and are commonly available from anyone dealing in ceramic supplies or pottery equipment.

Preparing the kiln sitter is as easy as lifting the center rod up, laying the desired cone across the two metal prongs in its tripper mechanism and gently lowering the center rod down on the cone, below left. When the firing has gotten to the melting temperature of the cone, the cone bends below right, permitting the tripper mechanism to disengage the kiln sitter's electrical contacts, thereby shutting the kiln off.

kiln sitter 4

In the

links above

check out

What do cone numbers mean,


Checking the temperature inside your kiln

These pages will help you to understand just what a cone is.

The kiln sitter pictured above is a completely self contained unit that can easily be added to most kilns by anyone with handyman skills. These types of kiln sitters will work with any kiln voltage, managing currents up to 50 Amps. Most kiln sitters contain a devise known as a limit timer, the round knob shown above on kiln sitter faceplate. The role of the limit timer is to remove power from the elements after a certain period of time, it has nothing to do with controlling the heat inside the kiln. This is what may be called a back up in the event of kiln sitter failure. The limit timer should never remove power during normal operation.

WAH LA!!!!

This simple little invention did away with the babysitting mode of firing a load of ceramics or pottery and gave the workers a sense of freedom.

Now, we have computerized kilns which have touch and go firing. We touch a few buttons and we can go and get something else done and don't have to worry about tending to the kiln. Maintenance on a computerized kiln is of the upmost importance because if it malfunctions it could easily cause a fire. Even though they pretty much take care of themselves, it is best not to leave them for any period of time.

Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Chief Seattle

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

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 from Youtube. 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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