Monday, September 1, 2014

Sternwheel Festival, pumpkins and kiln fail

Marietta's Sternwheel Festival is coming up and I have made some sternwheel tumblers in time for the event.  One woman recently purchased six for guests who will be visiting this weekend.  The tumblers are for sale at Riverside Artists Gallery
 Also at the gallery are some large bike mugs.  I just barely got these ready for the River, Trails and Ales Festival last month.  They were still toasty from the kiln when I brought them in to the gallery.  I don't think I sold any to the bike crowd that weekend.  They may have been more into the ales related activities than cruising galleries in their down time.
Yes, fall is on it's way and that means pumpkins.  I was in the process of glazing when Miss Billy decided to snuggle up with a few pumpkins.
Miss Billy will be pleased to know I included a more dignified photo.
Completely glazed pumpkins waiting by the kiln.  I make a small coil of clay and form it into a ring so that the pumpkin has something to raise it up slightly from the kiln shelf.  This allows me to glaze most of the bottom of the pumpkin. These pumpkins are already sitting on the rings, in case you're wondering why some look like they are hovering on the shelf. 
Looks like there might be a little delay on this next glaze firing. I ordered a new thermocouple after some panic inducing stuff happened at the end of my last bisque firing.  Here's a picture of the wounded thermocouple:
  I have left the kiln unattended at the end of a firing only once.  I don't care if it's supposed to shut off at the temperature that was programed in- I want to see it for myself.  In this situation I decided to stop the firing  a few degrees before the programmed temperature. Usually I fire to between cones 05 and 04. This typically means a solid cone 04 on the bottom but not quite there at the top.  And yes, I still use cones, top and bottom, even though the kiln is automatic. 
When I shut off the kiln I always stand there looking at the temperature read-out to make sure the temp is actually ticking down.  It was, so I left.  Three hours later I took a look and the temp was something over 2400 degrees F!  I don't even know what cone that is.  After a moment of panic  I removed the plug from the outlet then peeked into one of the port holes.  No glowing, so I knew it was cooling. Plugged it back in, and the temperature read-out jumped all over the place, then said FAIL.  No kidding.
These automatic kilns can be convenient but...


  1. Yikes, how old is your kiln, perhaps there was a fluctuation in electricity? Your pumpkins look real. Do they have a hole in them for air to escape? Hope you show them after they are fired.

  2. I don't know exactly how old it is. The potter who had this kiln before me said she used it for about 7 years, then she had to quit working due to health problems and it sat unused for several more years. I think I've had it for 5 or 6 so I've probably been lucky there have been no problems until now.

    The pumpkins do have a small hole in the bottom.


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