Electric Firing: Creative Techniques

Electric kilns are wonderful things! They’re so readily available and simple to install that you can easily take advantage of the incredible potential this tool has to offer. Nearly every ceramic artist now uses one in some capacity in their studio because electric firing offers a control and dependability not found with any other type of firing.


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As the popularity of electric kilns increased over the years, manufacturers and suppliers made them even more versatile. Advances in controllers, energy efficiency, materials and safety now make it possible for studio potters to take advantage of this tool for relatively little investment. And, as the artists in Electric Firing demonstrate, there’s no limit to the creativity possible with this efficient and effective tool.

More versatile than ever

In Electric Firing: Creative Techniques you’ll discover the contributions of studio artists who use electric kilns. They eagerly share the results of their experiments, their research and their artistic successes. Build on what they’ve learned through the up-to-date information on processes, glazes, tools, materials and techniques they provide.

Pennsylvania Redware experiences a renaissance with modern materials and processes. No longer bound to wood firing and lead glazes, Denise Wilz provides a step-by-step for duplicating this simple American fare using contemporary clays, glazes and the electric kiln to create this iconic work.

Using Majolica Glazes is one example of the type of information provided in Electric Firing as David Gamble unravels the confusing array of hundreds of majolica glazes now on the market. Whether you’re exploring this historical technique or just wanting to try something new for a change, you’ll find a starting point here.

If you believe you’re limited by an electric kiln that usually fires to cone 6, you can take a lesson from Richard Busch. Frustrated, especially after experiencing a robust 14-hour wood firing, he wondered if an electric kiln could begin to produce the same earthy results. Since he believed that necessity is the mother of invention, he set out to get A Wood-Fired Look at cone 6. Success!

At one time you could make Low-Fire Electric Reds by mixing your own. David Gamble explores the new types of commercially-available reds that will add zing to your work. Gail Kendall demonstrates her step-by-step for decorating colorful work using a variety of methods in Low-Fire Surface Decoration. DaNisha Sculpture is the collaboration of two talented artists, Nisha and Dan Ferguson. The electric kiln allowed them to concentrate on their elaborate forms and decoration. Using the vessel for narrative storytelling inspires Jitka Palmer, who says she enjoys painting on curved surfaces because it makes the images more dramatic. One of the hottest decorating mediums on the market today is underglazes. See examples of Using Colorful Underglazes in a variety of ways by top artists. Each winter Kesl and Tilton collaborate on work and their story is intriguing. You’ll get a rare look at a sustained involvement of a passionate team.

Scott Bennett finds inspiration in jewelry and explores what happens when you make brooches, pins and rings monumental in size. V’Lou Oliveira uses commercial glazes for the brilliant colors that enhance her playful iconclastic approach to her work. China Paint is at the lowest end of the temperature range in ceramics and Paul Lewing guides you through the basics to get you started. Joan Takayama-Ogawa uses china paints to decorate her teapots and constructions sometimes taking up to 9 firings to finish a piece.

Versatile Recipes for engobes, slips, glazes and self-glazing clays can add a lot of character to your work. Looking at one of the most influential potters of all time, John McCuistion pays Homage to Palissy in his artistic work. Palissy would be amazed at the modern twist. When it comes to Surface and Form Kelly King achieves a personal and contemporary sense of design sure to inspire you. Faith Rahill shows you that Creating Neriage Blocks provide a great way to work three dimensionally with patterns and images. Laura Kukkee reveals how her subtle change in a technique lead her to impressive results with her slip decorating. Paul Wandless maintains that Testing Your Clay provides you with information you can observe, touch and feel firsthand in your own environment.

You can expand the capabilities of your electric kiln with gas by Building a Gas/Electric Kiln—It’s all about hybrids now. What do An Anagama and an Electric Kiln have in common? Not a lot but they can be used together as Daryn Lowman explains as he adds color to his wood-fired work. We live in an era of recycling so it makes sense to have a description for Converting an Electric Kiln for Wood or Gas Firing. When is an electric kiln no longer usable? If you missed the lecture on kilns, you’ll appreciate this refresher course on the Ten Basics of Firing. Now you won’t have to ask any dumb questions.

Keeping your kiln in good operating form adds years of reliable service. An annual Kiln Checkup can add years to the life of your kiln.

The ceramics field got its first energy shock back in 1973 with the OPEC oil embargo. This single event did more to cause The Oxidation Reverberation in studio ceramics and the rise of electric firing—yes! Color and Texture are critical factors when selecting glazes for your work. Jonathan Kaplan describes what to look for in glaze ingredients and some of the best ways to apply glazes. Since glaze and wax don’t mix, that’s the principle behind Designing with Wax Resist. Marj Peeler, a potter for more than 60 years, knows some old tricks. An electric kiln holds some surprises when you follow Harry Spring’s technique for Wood-Ash Glazing at Cone 6. Geoffrey Wheeler decided that wood- and salt-fired surfaces were not what he was looking for in his work and so he switched to all electric firing making many Transitions and Transformations along the way. Adding Depth to Your Glazes is simple following Lisa Bare Culp as she explores using commercially prepared glazes to introduce bold new colors.


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