Happy Halloween from Paragon! L to R: Teri (Hells Angel), Veronica (50s teeny bopper), Laura (wicked witch), Susan (hippie), Shelia (Little Red Riding Hood). Sitting: Maria (the dark angel).
Recent Q&As: 2 1/2” and 3” wall kilns; direct-wiring a kiln
A Kiln Story: A Beautiful Overfiring
Halloween at Paragon
The drying time of ceramic greenware depends on the thickness of the clay, the method of drying, and the humidity in your area.
Touch the greenware to the inside of your wrist or to your cheek. If it feels warm, it is usually dry. Be sure to check the bottom of a piece, which retains moisture longer than the upper, thinner sections. Dry longer if the clay feels cool or if it has dark patches, which indicate moisture. Note, however, that in humid areas, even damp greenware can feel warm. Greenware feels cool due to evaporation. Damp greenware can feel warm when the moisture in it stops evaporating.
An efficient way to dry greenware is to place it inside an enclosure such as a metal cabinet that contains a small electric heater. This is called a hot box. The moisture in the clay raises the humidity inside the cabinet. The humidity keeps the clay surface moist, which prevents the surface from closing up and trapping moisture inside the ware. Thus, the high humidity allows the clay to dry evenly. As the clay continues to dry and moisture slowly leaves the cabinet, the humidity drops, which causes the clay to finish drying.
Q. I am trying to decide whether to buy a kiln with 3” walls or 2 1/2” walls.
A. Get the kiln with 3" walls if you are firing to cone 6 or above, because the kiln’s heating elements will last longer. If you were firing to cone 05, then it wouldn't matter which model you chose. Electrical cost to fire the 3" wall kiln is slightly lower than to fire the 2 1/2" wall version. In 1980 we introduced 3" wall kilns as the Energy Miser series, because they save electricity. The 3" wall kiln also takes longer to cool down. But slow cooling enhances certain glazes. Q. The 240-volt studio kiln I am interested in purchasing comes with a cord and plug. Can it be direct wired? And isn't direct wiring a bit safer than using the plug?
A. A kiln that has a cord and plug can be direct wired by your electrician. He would need to cut off the attachment cap (plug). Yes, direct wiring is better than plugging the kiln into a wall outlet. This is because over a long period of time, it is possible for the springs in the wall outlet to weaken, causing the outlet to over-heat. Direct wiring a kiln eliminates the wall outlet altogether. However, a direct-wired kiln is no longer easy to move.
A KILN STORY: A BEAUTIFUL OVERFIRING
Dolita Dohrman of Louisville, Kentucky wrote, “At a studio in the Marshall Islands, there was a flat form that had what looked like wilted pots. I thought whoever made it was pretty artistic. It lay around the shop for months.
“I finally asked why no one had claimed it. The master potter in our group laughed and replied that the kiln had gotten way too hot and actually melted the clay as well as the glaze. What I thought was a flat form made of clay was really a kiln shelf, and the pots that were once about 8 inches high were now about 2 inches. I thought it would have looked nice as a wall sculpture.”
“Don’t spend your precious time asking, ‘Why isn’t the world a better place?’ It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is, ‘How can I make it better?’ To that, there is an answer.” --Leo Buscaglia
HALLOWEEN AT PARAGON
When you walk through the front office here at Paragon, you have to dodge plastic bats and ghosts hanging from the ceiling. A mannequin wearing a monster mask sits in a chair just inside the front door.
One of my favorite Halloweens was the year my son, Patrick, was three years old. He was dressed as a tiny Pterodactyl, which was a flying reptile that lived in the dinosaur age.
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com
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Copyright 2008, by Paragon Industries, L.P.