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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Follow Up

Friday night the kiln reached 2167 degrees F by 9pm. Sweet.
The lavender glaze worked. Lavender where applied thickly. Sky blue where applied thin.
That's: 0.5 Cobalt Carbonate + 2 Tin Oxide + 0.08 Manganese Dioxide
Added to a base of: 19 Custer Spar + 8.5 Gerstley Borate + 11 Silica + 4 Zinc + 4.5 Wollastonite + 3 Talc.
Double these amounts for a total of 100%.
It's a good, mostly glossy, Cone 5/6 base.
Was tickled pink to have configured a Cone 5/6 base glaze that works !!!
Finally achieved lavender!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Short Note

Ha! You thought i was just kidding when i mentioned cracking the books.

Thought i'd mention briefly -- this morning as i was putting the bowl in the kiln, noticed that the section over-glazed with the Arabic Gum/copper carb mixture had completely peeled off overnight !!! It was just "sort-a" resting along the side where the bowl curves inside.
Obviously, there's more to this than just mixing the Arabic Gum with alcohol and oxides. However, with all the pottery books acquired (there's more in the case behind me), not one of them gives a detailed description of the measurements to use when trying this mixture. This technique, "they" say is also good for giving a luster surface in reduction, however, i wanted to see what it would do in oxidation.
It's currently, 1:06pm and temps in the electric kiln are 801 degrees F.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Yesterday morning a miracle happened.

Tom Causey, the Project Manager, of West Pointe Electric Company, located in Victor, Idaho knocked at my door promptly at 9am. A lovely dear man with a sweet heart.

A call to his company on Tuesday evening shortly before 5pm, produced his offer: "Because I'll be in your neighborhood tomorrow morning, I can just drop by and give you a free estimate on installing a dedicated circuit breaker for your kiln."

And Bless Tom Causey -- for didn't he quote me a price i could afford !!! xxx I figure he's straight from God.
Note the recepticle slightly to the right of the kiln !!! xxx
Ain't it beautiful ???
So! Yesterday and today, glazed 2 bowls after spending most of each day cracking the books, hunting for new Cone 6 formulas.
Glazed one with what i hope will be a Copper Red reduction glaze. Yep. Am going to try the gas kiln again. Thought of a new possibility for firing it that may work.
Actually, if it hadn't-a been for Tom Causey inspiring me with new optimism by wiring the circuit breaker for the electric kiln, i wouldn't-a thought of the new system for the gas kiln!

Intriguing isn't it, how when you're bubbling with newly found optimism, ideas just flow!

Glazed the second bowl with a newly configured recipe designed for the electric kiln, hoping to produce a lavender, also applied a Cobalt Carb, Rutile and Vanadium combination which i've wanted to try, and additionally, (on the same bowl) mixed some Gum Arabic (which i've not used before) with alcohol and 1 part Copper Carb plus 5mm of water -- just to see what the results will be.
xxx xxxxxxxxxxxx
OK. If it's early to rise, i'd best be off to bed. Intend to fire the electric kiln tomorrow.
Am really pretty excited about it!
Happy Kiln Days to Y'All

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kiln Dilemma

Discovered a bit about electricity over the weekend.
I was standing in front of the electric kiln and my thoughts were: Hmmm . . . how can i make you work?
Or more to the point: Why aren't you working?

OK. Some people talk to their kilns and others do not. Me? I'm a quasi-talker. If there's a possibility of building a harmonious relationship with the mechanical beasti -- i talk, conjole, threaten, plead . . .
If it's an alien from an unknown universe who will never understand the linguistics, silence is the ticket.
Kilns fall somewhere's in the realm of in-between.

Now my Paragon Electric Kiln has done its best to co-operate with me. But, then again, in the other house it had a 20-amp dedicated circuit. That is not the case here.
But i am here and how am i gonna make this thing work?
Knowing that all the garage recepticals are wired to the same circuit, i turned the breaker off to see what else was wired to the same circuit.
Discovered the 2 ceiling lights went off when the breaker was tripped. That's 1.66 amps right there. The kiln draws 19 amps. OK. So we're over the 20 amp breaker limit ! Worse yet, the garage-door opener is wired to the same circuit. It draws 6 amps.
If you consider that a 20-amp wire can carry 20 amps all day long but that the breakers can only carry 80 percent of their rating on a continuous basis (which is a circuit loaded to capacity for 3 hours or more) we now have a reasonable defination of why the Paragon kiln will not reach Cone 6 temperatures in this house on the garage circuit.

Thought maybe if i did the math and transposed everything to watts, i'd get a different answer. But nope. That didn't work either. It just provided a definate answer that this situation, as it is, isn't going to work.
Intriguingly tho, the face-plate on the kiln reads: usage: 19 amps and 2200 watts. Those 2200 watts read out as 18.33 amps when the calculation is applied. What gives with that? The kiln either uses 19 amps or 18.33 amps . . . . but certainly not both as the wattage vs the amperage indicate.
It's a moot point however, for in either case the amount is over the maximum load of the circuit.

Ah sure now, it's back to the drawing board. But in this house -- i'm gonna have to find the drawing board before i can make furthering calculations . . . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I'm afraid that all is lost for Obama!
Last night the pundits started labeling Palin as someone they could sit down in the back yard with and have a beer.
Exactly the same description they gave Bush and look what happened . . . .
Wish Obama would lead from the gut and share emotions. Get his audience involved. A joke or two wouldn't hurt his case at all. Most voters are not Harvard graduates (remember -- many are illiterate) and his high falutin ideas go right over their heads.
Of course, you and i would elect him because of his intelligence and ideas; but then again as seen in the Bush/Gore, Bush/Kerry campaigns -- 51% of the American voters see themselves as the "average Joe" with beer being the beverage of choice rather than champagne.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Creating In A Vacuum

Just can't be done.
That is
Creating in a vacuum
Is a task unmöglich
Which is why all of Monday was spent moving my glaze application chems, tables, etc. from the garage to the dining room. Glancing to the right, the view from the living room windows is visible . . . .
Intended to fire the gas kiln on the morrow and just see what could be accomplished. Sadly, after lifting, carrying and moving all this stuff, was too tired to compute new glazes ( those already made up in bits + dabs are for cone 04-06).
Sooo! Decided to use the commercial Coyotte cone 6 glazes i have on hand.
Tuesday, shortly after the kiln was fired, an opportunity arose to ride along to Idaho Falls which is an hour's drive away but somehow takes an entire day to accomplish! The opportunity was too great to pass up because a 33-ounce size of Yuban coffee there costs $4.00. Here, the same item costs $12.99. (That's practically a $100.oo savings if you buy 10 cans!) And though it's only September, am stocking up supplies for the winter months when the roads close and we are marooned.
However, first thing yesterday morning was up with the dawn and firing the gas kiln. My feet hit the floor running the moment my eyes opened as i raced to the garage to light the pilot-bar. Usually, for some unknown reason, my mind does not compute well when it first surfaces from a deep sleep but yesterday it did pretty darn good as the need arose to configure some method of hanging the pyrometer to read the interior kiln temps.
Pretty good improvisation for a 6am inspiration, right?

Sure need to study more about gas kiln firing.
The Olympic manual sent along with the kiln is about as scarce on details as flowers are in the far-north's winter months.
Was under the impression that 2-3 feet above the kiln, the heat dissipated. Which is why i wasn't worried that the ceiling would overheat . . . .
As that kiln, sitting out in the garage ( with the huge garage door open a foot or more and a window opened to boot ) began to heat the whole house (warmest i've been since moving in! ) -- i began to worry about the ceiling! Like: uh-oh, this might have been a miscalculation . . . .
And would you believe ?? with all that heat generated, the kiln never did reach temps over 1950°F !!!
Figured i'd have to wait til 7pm or so tonight to see if the mixing bowl had come out at all. Chances were that it would not. For when the burners fired from the pilot-bar the rate of temperature increased from 100°F to 1225°F within seconds. Much too rapidly to figure out how to adjust them properly. Expected at least a hundred cracks, chinks, fissures; wouldn't have been surprized if the bowl had completely broken, especially when i found this morning that the kiln had completely cooled to the touch overnight.

Georgie's G-Mix 6 with Grog is a miraculous clay.

With all that it went through the bowl emerged from the kiln perfectly whole !!! That's just too awesome to believe.

Of course, the glaze never reached maturity . . . . The chalky lighter areas are just that -- a chalky and powdery consistency of an underfired glaze. What buffaloes me tho is that there are some areas which have a "boiled appearance" as if they got too hot !!! That is partially visible in the photo above, and again here:
Ah well . . . . it's back to the drawing board. Learning how to fire a gas kiln may be a costly proposition, especially now with the price of fuel so high. (Cost of running the electric kiln never did seem like a spendy affair for 17-cents per hour always seemed "affordable".) But, as mentioned before, the contractor who built this house, ran all the garage wiring on the same circuit so the electric kiln won't fire to temperature either . . . .

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Stress Factor

Moving from one place where everything is set up, working and handy, to a new environment always introduces a stress factor.
One can temporize and con oneself with the platitude that the whole world has not caved in upon oneself and that this is -- just different.
But remember . . . .
My Mother knicknamed me: Chicken Little.
As i recall the story it was about a wee chickie who ran around in a panic. "The sky is falling in! The sky is falling in!"
Anyhooo . . . that is my story and i'm sticking to it.
Looks large and roomy, doesn't it?
Indeed, there was space for my wheel, tables, kilns, glaze mixing tables, chem storage shelves and tables for greenware + bisque.
It's an absolutely generic space. No view. With the garage door shut - no light. Cold.
Whoever built the house four years ago, wired the whole garage onto one circuit.
So! Moved the wheel, etc. into a 10' by 12' beige-colored room. I actually paced it off and it really is 10' x 12', altho it seems more like an 8' box with low ceilings.
To a work-a-holic lost time from work is death. The spirit dies, cries a little bit more each day.
Neither kiln was operational.
The weather turned from sunny and warm to cold, gray, rainy and dismal.
And while 37 days is not an eternity, it seemed like one.
ok. That's the half-empty glass.
Here's the half-full.
Yesterday, the gas kiln was hooked up to the propane tank.
Since it's in the attached garage, [last year's] 56-inches of snow between the house and the kiln shed won't prevent me from using it this winter.
( For those of you who, like me, are math challenged, 56-inches equals 4.66 feet !! and -- since i am 5'1" -- the ground-snow was darn near as deep as i am tall! )
Since this is an all electric house -- i won't have to chop/split wood for heat. That, in itself, is a Blessing! (Altho, after 4 years of splitting wood, i had just mastered a technique which made it easier!)
Funny, how after a major move, nothing is where it ought-a be and you have to search like the dickens to find anything. So it may take me a day or so to find my positive attitude but i'm sure it made the move and is merely stored in a box somewheres. Am pretty sure, if i keep searching, i'll find it.
In the meantime, now that one of the kilns is up and running, there's work to do:
As Donovan always says: Onwards and upwards.