Electric Kiln Conversion

It occurred to me that I didnt do a proper post about the kiln conversion. Been a bit behind lately I guess.

So here it is.

I found this information on the Ward Burner site which is a fantastic resource. You cant even buy a burner without talking to someone and going through the entire process and calculations so that what they sell you is specifically designed to do what you want to do. They are fantastic to work with. The MR100 burner with the regulator that pushes 11WC” of pressure. Its the standard off of any tank. I got this burner because it pushes more BTU and it is bad to the BONE!

burner

The important information:

Burner port is 1″ wider than the burner dimentions

Exhaust port is 2″ wider than the burner dimentions

First put on your mask. DO THIS! You dont want to breathe this stuff. It might not kill you right away but it would be a shame to end your ceramics career and life before your have to.

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It starts off like this.

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Get it cleaned out. Vaccum it out with a shop vac and get the inevitable junk out of it.

Then get in there and remove the dangly bits and the wires and controller if it has one.

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Then carefully remove the elements. Those were the most troublesome part as they kept trying to break off the lip of the fragile soft brick.

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For the exhaust I cut the soft brick of the lid using a small saw. I drew the template using a straight edge ruler and a permanent marker but just about anything will do. This shows the width as 2″ larger than the burner port.

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I intentionally cut my exhaust width wise to the correct dimensions but cut it longer than necessary so that I could put a kiln shelf or two on top and regulate how much air gets in or out as well as move the port to the font or the back of the kiln during firing.

Cutting the burner port itself was a challenge due to the sheet metal housing. I ended up drilling a hundred small holes and then doing my best to clip off the sharp edges using some wire cutters.

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Make sure you have a tank of LP Propane, depending on how fast and how hot you are firing you might need a larger tank. I opted for the 100lb tank and I have another 2 firings out of it before I have to refill it. You can see the vapor line of condensation indicating the level of fuel left in the tank. A 20lb BBQ tank would most likely freeze up before I got to temperature.

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Spark it up and make sure it works.

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Then go to town!

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Being Busy

I have the opportunity to convert an old electric kiln to LP and found that leasing a tank is supposedly very inexpensive. This way I can get to cone 10 temperatures without shortening the life of my electric kiln, experiment with reduction and test glazes in an environment closer to a wood kiln. 

I’ve been working nights to get some more work done. It’s much cooler. The Georgia summers are just brutal with the heat and humidity. 

Night time in the stidio looks like something out of a dream. Living the dream 🙂

I’ve been using porcelain exclusively for a month and it’s a beautiful thing. I’m trying to push it to its limits, which means that my scrap bucket does not go hungry 🙂 

I am experimenting with some irregular shapes and found the issue of trimming the bottoms was a pretty simple solution. I used a large enough lump of clay as a chuck. I should turn a few sizes on the wheel and then bisque. I can use a small lump of clay (carpet under-matting or similar) as an adhesive. This will solve the secondary problem of not being able to bear down on the clay to get a good cut. 

  
 
I’ve been finding things to do indoors as well. So I have hijacked my own island in the kitchen for my small ceramics projects that don’t need the wheel. I have a beautiful backdrop thanks to my wife 😀

  
Been carving with the Mudtools brand tools. The Do-All Trim Tool is a Ferari of a tool and just gets better the more I use it.  The Drag Tool, I still need some practice with but there are a lot of possibilities there too. I’ve been making small guinomi chalices as they are small, quick jobs and keep my pinching skills up. 

   
 

Procrastination comes to an end…

Procrastination comes in a many forms – gotta wash the dishes, I’m shot from work, should do the laundry, clean the yard, relax. It’s productive procrastination sometimes. But I’ve finally got 5 glaze test going with the kiln at 700F and falling. Can’t wait to see if I’m on the right track or if more tweaking is necessary.


Moss ash, Temmoku with moss ash, my marshmallow white with moss ash, standard wood ash, a ru Celadon with some Zircopax. Up front is internally glazed with celadon and externally with moss ash. Bake until bubbly!

Here is the list for anyone interested in the recipes (ru is incomplete, I’ll update full recipe later)


My workspace is in complete disarray  but the shelves are up and I now have a space to mix and glaze and some spare room to house greenware. There are three bags of recyclables being collected for another art project for a friend and you don’t want to see the rest of the place! (There’s a Christmas tree out of frame! Etc…)

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with a few fellow potters to do the math on the new Anagama kiln which hopefully will be built and operational before this time next year. Something similar to this.


Single chamber, smallish but perfectly workable. I mostly do smaller pottery, yunomi a and chawan and the such, so no problems there! We’ll be able to stack high and deep. In fact Jay has no intention of fully relying on this kiln as his livelihood comes from the controlled firings he gets in his gas kiln. But man what fun to see what the fire brings to the collaboration! All 3 of us work within our own styles and that is a kind of symbiotic / synergetic thing! I love that I can get ideas and input from various sources and filter it through my own sense of taste.  We might already have 1000 bricks so it shouldn’t be too much more expensive to get the rest of the materials.

Myself, I have a cone 8 electric kiln which I really have no desire to peruse firing in that manner except for bisque and the ocasional glaze test. I’m prepared for the inevitable frustration of having a priced piece of work come out different from what I envision. Along with that should come some happy accidents and having my physical input into the process is something that I highly desire. Kind of like shooting film and thendeveloping it yourself. It’s a beginning to end process. It is a collaboration after all.

Back to being excited and motivated thanks to getting my diet and supplements in order. Some medications just take it all out of you. So goes life.

I’m also working on a list of decoration techniques (other than form based). Mostly to just solidify different techniques in my brain so I can compliment the forms I make. Probably hundreds more of these to come, just getting started.


So my day pretty much looks like this when I’m able to focus on ceramics. Being a potter with a 45 hour a week side gig at a fortune 100 company is sometimes full of challenges, both logistically and motivationally.


So there you have it! My Fourth of July update. No red white and blue pots, but some gold motivation to keep on pushing. It just takes time to get any better and you got to put in the work. Same goes for anything. Life itself. You get out of it what you put in!