Friday, January 30, 2015

Updated Website

My website got a total makeover.  It's light and cheerful.  It now has a lovely slide show and a fun little about page.  John did a fantastic job.  He's such a sweetheart.

On another subject… I finally fired a bisque in my new kiln.   Even though I've made thermocouple offsets totaling 24º cooler, the bisque over-fired by nearly a cone.  I bisque to cone 04 and the results were close to a cone 03.     L&L tech support says that I will need to make more offsets.  I'm so disappointed in this kiln, I could cry.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bowls for St. Jude's and Studio Tips

My next kiln opening will include several bowls from my "Praise Him" series.   100% of the sell proceeds are donated to help the kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  

"Believe" Inspirational Bowl

"Praise Him" 

* A couple little studio tips *

Last year I started taking photos of my fresh pots with detail notes.  I keep the photos in my studio binder.   Very helpful for consistency in size and form.   

A great way to de-warp bats.   A weekend squished between a concrete floor and a Shimpo banding wheel.  Works best if you lightly sponge the surface first.

Hope you all have a great clay day!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The First Week of 2015

Hey Grandma, Can I have that big box?
L&L Kiln box is a fort waiting to happen

It's been a great week with "The Three".  Tomorrow is the last day of our week long vacation together.  I'm trying to think of somthing special for us to do, but the entire week has been pretty darn fun and very special to me.    My Grandkids have my heart wrapped around them very tight.

This snow bank is now officially the planet "Hoth" from Star Wars.  

A Tie-Fighter Sqaud made from Legos

Painting with water colors and making up our own blues songs

Monday morning I'll be back in the studio making pottery and missing these amazing kids like crazy.  

I am so blessed!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Kiln Calibrations Done... for now

Test fire #6

The bottom shelf fired a perfect ^5.5.  I hope these calibrations are close enough for me to fire ware without over or under firing.   I'm not going to pack the kiln with my usual detailed work.  I'm going to make some simple pieces and see how the kiln fires ware. 

BTW, Yesterday I called and talked to Tech Support at L&L.  He suggested that my thermocouple offsets should have began at 20° and not less than 10°.   I agree, my adjustments probably were too conservative, which resulted in numberous test firings.

As you can see the top is cool again, just like test fire #5.   The thermocouple for the top section was with witness cone "middle". The thermocouple for bottom section was with witness cone "bottom".  I already stagger my shelves, but I guess this means I will need to experiment with my shelf configurations. 

I selected "quad elements" because I was told they would help create a more even heating enviroment thoughout the kiln. I don't really see even heating happening in the last 2 firings.  Shelves 7" and 5" from the top  were clearly cooler than the rest of the kiln.  

Calibrating this kiln has been a learning experience. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Test Fire #5

Watching cones bend while John took temperature notes.  

I saw witness cone 5 fall,  but I wasn't able to see the fall of  witness cone 5.5.  I could see the base, but the top half blended in with the yellow hot of the kiln. After the kiln was complete and without the backlighting of the elements, I couldn't define anything at all. 

Test fire #5 results:  I was hoping to to see witness cone 5.5 bent to 4 o'clock.   It's still well below the platform, but at least it's no longer touching the shelf.  Apparently my 2nd thermocouple offset wasn't enough.

5.5 witness cones from test fire #5

The kiln has fired evenly in both sections consistantly until this test fire.   I'm pretty sure the top was cool because 30º air was vented in through the top peep hole for the last 25 minute of the firing, while I viewed the cones fall.    At least I hope that's the reason. 

Test fire REMEDY:  Today I made a 3rd thermocouple offset.  Cooler by 6º and ran test fire #6.   I was tempted to make a larger adjustment, but after talking to John, decided to remain conservative.  

A weird thing that I can't think of any explanation..   
My custom ^5.5 slow glaze schedule is a 9 hour ramp firing.   1st time firing the schedule in this new kiln it took 8 hours 45 minutes.  2nd firing was 8 hours 40 minutes.  3rd firing 8 hours and 34 minutes.    I'm confused about this because a ramped firing schedule should adhere to the programed temperature and TIME.   I can't figure out why my 9 hour schedule is getting shorter and shorter with each firing in this kiln.    Maybe L&L Kilns tech support will have an answer.   

Friday, January 2, 2015

Test Fire #4 and What is a Perfect Cone Bend?

In the Book "The Complete Guide to Mid-Range Glazes" John Britt writes about reading cones,  "The perfect arch of self-supporting cones is when it is bent to the top of the flared triangular base". He goes further into the subject with illustrations, photos and lots of great information.  If you don't already have John's new book, you need to stop what you're doing and order it right now. 

I found this video from Orton. It was very enlightening.

I can't call this test fire "close enough" because it's based on an empty kiln.  I must consider the additional heat work of a full kiln could bring the firing results to a ^6 or hotter.

Yes, I am getting tired of pissing around with calibrating this new kiln. Plus, witness cones and electricity aren't cheap. I just need this kiln to fire as accurate as my other kiln.  

This morning I made thermocouple offset adjustment #2.  I'm cooling the kiln by an additional 6°.  I'm not sure if the kiln's computer will even register this small adjustment, but I'm fine tuning and any change needs to be small.

Lining up a good view through the peep hole

I just fired up test fire #5 with the same DirtKicker ^5.5 Slow Glaze program.  This time I'll be viewing the bend of the cones and John will take note of the displayed temperature.  We will also take note of the temperature at the time the kiln displays "complete".

Praying that the 5th times a charm.