Steady as she goes


I mentioned earlier in the week that I was starting another biscuit firing. This was followed by a glaze firing starting on Wednesday at crack of sparrows and finishing the following morning at 1.30am. I opened the kiln later that afternoon and was really pleased with the results. I feel like I’ve been making real headway and, although these pieces are not right yet, I’m hoping that it won’t be long now before I’m ready to start selling. A few things need to be improved… I’ve already started tackling the fineness of my throwing, I’ve loads of decoration ideas, but now it’s the kiln that needs sorting. Ruby has done me proud and I’ve learned so much from borrowing her, but now I need something newer, bigger, more efficient.

To the potters amongst you, I’d love to know what experience you have with kilns. Any thoughts or advice on what I should upgrade to would be very gratefully accepted.


21 thoughts on “Steady as she goes

  1. Depends on what you intend to make Juliet….i went for the biggest electric volume and highest temp possible without having to get a crane to install or deliver, electricity boosted or three phase required. Once i knew what i needed, it helped to narrow things down, after that it was down to cost and maintenance required. Touch wood, its worked well for 7 years with no complaints. Shop around and look at SPA website for preloved. Good luck.

  2. I follow your progess with interest!

    I have an electric kiln with automatic controls. It’s not too big, about 24″ across and about the same in heighth. I can fire items about 18″ tall in it and that works great for me since I do a lot of tiles and small figurines. I like the smaller size since I don’t produce huge volumes of work and so it is not too hard to get a kiln load together. It works great and has for about 6 years. I fire only to cone 6; it could go higher but I don’t need to and so I don’t push it. I do like the automatic nature of this kiln – and if you want more control it has the ability to customize a program.

    • Thank you Claudia. It’s really interesting to hear what people have and how they get on with them. I’m definitely going for something that is automatic. I just don’t have the time, or inclination, to be turning switches up or down every hour any more.

  3. I’m using an L&L 23″. I opted for the thicker firebrick, which I think has helped with firing times and slower cool-downs. The programmable controller is a must-have. It also has the remote computer option which is really nice for tracking an analysing firing cycles. I could live without the remote logging, but it’s way more fun (and has helped sort out a few glaze issues.) Make sure whichever you pick can be worked on fairly easily, i.e., replacing elements and thermocouples. Mine is going on 6 years old, and still works like a champ, but when it does need maintenance, I know it will be easy to work on. Have fun picking out your kiln!

  4. We have two shared top loading cromartie electric kilns in the studio, one of which is slightly larger in diameter and has a fancier controller. The basic control will do a two stage heat up, a soak and a one stage cooling. The fancy one will do two stage cooling which is good if you’re working with crystalline glazes. It’s also worth looking at the size of the shelves relative to the size of the kiln – the bigger kiln also has bigger shelves, which is handy for fitting more pieces in, but the gap around the edge is only about an inch and a half which is tricky to get gloved fingers into and seems to restrict the heat circulation so that different shelves can be rather different temperatures.
    Happy shopping!

    • Thank you Jane, your point about the possible cons of a bigger kiln is very helpful. I must say I’m finding the plethora of sizes and makes available a little bit daunting. It’s a lot of money to spend so keen to make an informed decision.

      • I can imagine! Part of the reason I was so pleased to move into a shared studio was precisely to avoid having to choose a kiln when I knew so little about them. Mind you, I guess that in the long run you get used to whatever you have and just work with it.

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