Techniques and Tips for Electric Kilns: Inspiration, Instructions and Glaze Recipes for Making Pottery in Electric Kilns

Learn to get the most out of electric kilns in this FREE PDF!

Electric kiln firing is one of the most common firing methods because electric pottery kilns are readily available and simple to install. But that doesn’t mean that they yield common results. Electric pottery kilns can be incredible tools in the studio. The authors presented here are creative potters and ceramic artists using electric pottery kilns to create exquisite ceramic art.

Not only can electric kilns produce great results, but they also offer control and dependability. And electric kilns keep becoming more versatile, economical, and easy to use with advances in controllers, energy efficiency, materials, and safety. Improve your electric firing results and take advantage of the incredible potential offered by electric kiln firing.

Here is an excerpt from Techniques and Tips for Electric Kilns: Inspiration, Instructions and Glaze Recipes for Making Pottery in Electric Kilns:

Kiln Operation: Heatwork

by Dave Finkelnberg

Heatwork describes the measurement of changes that have been effected on clay and glaze. It is a function of a combination of effects including temperature, duration of firing, kiln atmosphere, volume and mass within the kiln, and volatiles in the kiln. Understanding how heatwork helps measure the progress of a firing, and also understanding the limitations of the concept of heatwork, is important to achieving successful kiln firings.

Defining the Terms

Heatwork—The effect of temperature applied over time in a firing. The work done by effective heat transfer to wares is the result of ramp rate and peak temperature. Heatwork can be visualized as the area under a graph that shows the time versus temperature of a firing.

Pyrometric cone—A device used to measure heatwork by bending a predictable amount after exposure to a combination of heat and time. The way we (ceramic artists) measure heat.

Grain boundary slip—The process of solid particles in a material sliding past each other as a result of a force applied to the material. Cones bend and ware slumps because a glass phase forms and permits particles of the cone or ware to move past each other under the force of gravity.

Measuring Heatwork

Why, if a perfectly good thermocouple is installed in a kiln, would an artist also want to put pyrometric cones in a firing? What do those cones accomplish? Why use them? Each cone within a temperature range has a separate chemical and physical composition designed to permit the cone to bend over under the force of gravity at a particular temperature when heated at a specific rate.

For practical purposes, a pyrometric cone is simply a sophisticated blend of finely ground glaze ingredients. As those ingredients begin to melt, liquid first forms on the surfaces of some of the particles. The force of gravity lets individual particles slide past each other on this liquid film, allowing the cone to bend in a reliable, predictable manner. This deformation of the cone due to grain boundary slip occurs because part of the cone melts to a glass phase. The relatively weak liquid glass is not strong enough to keep the cone erect any longer so the cone, which is manufactured with a slight lean, begins to bend. This bending does not begin at a specific temperature, but rather at a combination of temperature and time.

Techniques and Tips for Electric Kilns: Inspiration, Instruction and Glaze Recipes for Electric Kiln Firing also includes the following:

Studio Safety

by Richard Zakin

Ceramists have good reason to be concerned about safety. Both the materials and the equipment we use to create can be dangerous. We have a responsibility to ourselves and others around us in the studio to create a safe working environment. Additionally, we should be concerned that the ware we produce is safe for others to use. In this article, an excerpt from Electric Kiln Ceramics, 4th Edition, Richard Zakin discusses studio safety “best practices.”

How to Replace Electric Kiln Elements

by David Gamble

While a new kiln is beautiful and shiny now, there will eventually come a day when you will have to replace the kiln elements. David Gamble provides excellent insights into replacing kiln elements for that inevitable day when your kiln elements go kaput.

How to Clean Kiln Shelves, Mix Kiln Wash, and Apply Kiln Wash

by Vince Pitelka

Kiln shelf maintenance is a much hated but very necessary part of having a kiln. Neglected kiln shelves can result in flakes of kiln wash landing smack dab in the middle of a beautiful glaze surface. In this article, an excerpt from Clay: A Studio Handbook, 2nd edition, Vince Pitelka gives some tips on scraping kiln shelves, mixing kiln wash, and shares a couple of kiln wash recipes. Follow his advice and kiln wash flakes fused to a glaze will be a thing of the past!

Slow Cooling in Electric Kilns

by Deanna Ranlett

Slowing down the cooling process in your electric kiln can prevent dunting and create some cool effects.

Download the free guide right now, and become a better ceramic artist tomorrow. That’s our promise to you from Ceramic Arts Network!

Best regards,

Jennifer Poellot Harnetty
Editor, Ceramic Arts Daily

PS: Remember, the artists featured on Ceramic Arts Network are among the top ceramic artists in the world today, who excel in everything from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. When you download one of our free guides, you get the best possible advice available and you become a part of our community – enjoying our artists’ stories, gaining inspiration from their work and finding confidence to try new techniques every day!

PPS: Even if you’re not brand new to clay, this guide is bound to have some tips in it that you’ve never heard before – and remember, it’s absolutely FREE, so why wouldn’t you read it today?

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