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!

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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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Good Times at the Wheel

Clay is a beautiful beautiful thing. We collaborate with nature and refine it and shape it and then offer it to the flame. If you are lucky, it will give you something back that will last a lifetime.

I’ve been turning out some decent work after a hard few weeks. Its good to get going and I’m maintaining some momentum. I had a success with my Terra Sigillata experiment and I’m really liking some of these new shapes I’m designing.

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I also made some small hand jewelry plates, which if the clay cooperates with the heat of the kiln it wont bubble or blister. I’m planning to bisque a looooong cone 04 to burn out as much junk as I can and glaze fire to cone 5. I think I’ll do it in two batches as I don’t want to risk them all in the same load.

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On Establishing a Rhythm

Art takes rhythm. Ceramics is no exception and probably needs it moreso than the majority of other art forms. It is especially slow paced and the process from beginning to end to create a piece can be weeks to months depending on firing schedules. Not to mention that it can take years before you truly master your materials. Testing glazes alone will take me many months to complete.

The rhythm with ceramics tends to go at “life pace”. Most of us hold down full time jobs, have families and other obligations to attend to before working on our own projects. It seems that it falls into a slow seasonal rhythm spanning years and this is something that I do not mind.

Winter is spent mostly indoors for me so I tend to work on pinched vessels and things that I can do away from the wheel. Spring is a time for re-invigoration, cleaning the mental ¬†clutter and getting back on the wheel. Summer is hot and with that comes the long days and trying to tighten up with routines. Fall is a magical time where I feel the most creative and bold. We’ll see how it goes over the years and how it gets more integrated with life until the goal of life being pottery and pottery being life comes about.

Here is a nice video on Establishing Rhythm with Dionne Swift. While not specifically a pottery video the core concepts span across mediums.

Establishing a Rhythm from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.