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Why Soda Firing

The pots in a soda kiln usually don’t have much glaze on the outsides of them, they are glazed by the introduction on soda ash, which volatiles when it hits the flame and creates a glaze. The flame then carries the soda ash through the kiln and the pots become glazed wherever the flame and soda kiss the pots.

Here you see me spraying the soda ash which is mixed with boiling water, into the kiln at about 2200 degrees.

 The results can be greatly varied with this type of firing. For me, that's a big part of the fun of it. You never know with 100% certainty, what you will get from the kilns.

This pot shows where the glaze hit the surface and really added a nice difference in appearance. The green you see is a spearmint glaze that I used inside the pot and along the rim. The soda mixed with that glaze and made it very dark, almost black in some spots and almost white in others. You can also see where it kissed the shoulder of the vessel and the handles. The orange color is from a flas…

Installing a Kiln Sitter Part 1

It's entirely possible that I am using one of the oldest electric kilns in America.  It's okay with me, I really like being involved in the firing process, which is part of the love of wood firing.  I also love technology but I realize that it's really expensive when it breaks, and it will always, eventually break. I am, of course, really envious of the computerized controllers, the set it and forget it ability that they afford us.  If someone gave me a kiln with a nice computer on it I would be forever grateful.  Still, their is something to be said for being involved with your work and using something for as long as it will be used.

The thing is, my old crusader doesn't even have a kiln sitter.  I don't mind peeking into a kiln to see how it's firing but it would still be nice to have a back-up system like a kiln sitter.  I should say it didn't have a kiln sitter.  Now it does.  And it's almost connected.

I found an offer on the Clay Club blog for a free crusader kiln with a kiln sitter.  One of those really nice ones that also has a timer to help ensure that the kiln gets shut off when it should.  The kiln needs new elements and is going to need a new plug soon.  The price was right so I packed Janet and Ginger the min-pin into the truck and off we went to pick up the kiln from a very sweet woman in Huntsville, AL.

It was a log day including a side trip to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens so the kiln spent the night in the back of the truck.  Yesterday I decided that I could remove the kiln sitter and electronics while the kiln was still back there (I'll unload it tonight when I have someone to help lift it).  I found some instructions on-line but still took a lot of pictures from many different angles and wrote my own wiring schematic from what I saw.  I think this is the best way to help ensure I put everything back correctly.

My kiln only has 2 peeps which I normally leave open at the beginning of a firing so I didn't want to fill up either of those holes with the kiln sitter.  Thankfully it already had a one inch hole in the skin, I would just have to cut through the brick.  This was done mostly and very slowly with a drill equipped with a paddle type drill bit.  Even though I held a block of wood behind the brick to prevent it from breaking up I still wanted it to be cut as gently as possible.  Soft brick crumbles so easily.  So I took a piece of pipe and cut through the last 1/8th of an inch by twirling that in the hole. It worked like a charm.

I want to use new screws, which I have yet to buy, to secure the components to the skin of the kiln so I haven't finished the task.  I'll post more about this installation in a day or two.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

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