Archive for January, 2013

Element(ry) My Dear Kiln Repairer…

January 12, 2013

Look what I got…

elements

The post’s title seems to be a bit misleading in retrospect. I got the elements a week or so ago and was waiting for a warmer day to spend in the cold basement replacing them. So yesterday it was balmy out… typical January weather in KY (and certainly nothing to be concerned about). After spending all day I felt a little stoogie about the whole endeavor…

elements

I replaced the elements first because I figured even if that wasn’t the problem, it was long overdue as I haven’t changed them since I got the kiln and I’ve never changed them on this brand of kiln. Coneart kilns have a groove that the element rests in and the entry gap is just slightly smaller than the diameter of the element itself. Although this is a pain to remove the old one because if one is not gingerly about it the area of the joint between the bricks can easily break off, it really is simple to put the new ones in. See how nice and clean it looks for a change…

elements

Here’s a closeup…

elements

Anyway, after that I put in a new thermocouple and tested it. I opened the kiln at about 900 degrees and the middle elements still were not glowing. Next, I replaced the associated relay and tested again… no luck. So now I don’t have any idea what to do although it’s been suggested that at 900 degrees or so maybe the middle elements just aren’t required yet. Guess I have to talk to someone at Coneart or do the test again only at a significantly higher temp. While in this mode I decided to clean my shelves and kilnwash them and the two new ones I got. It seemed like a good time to try Mr. Jeff Campana’s self-leveling kilnwash recipe that one can read about here if you get a hankerin’. Aside from the self leveling aspect, Jeff has replaced half of the EPK with calcined kaolin (glomax… which I cannot believe that I had on hand. Must’ve purchased it over 6 years ago and can’t for the life of me figure out why I got it) and added Darvan 7, ostensibly to reduce the shrinkage of the kilnwash. Darvan is a deflocculant and I never get tired of the apparent magic of adding a deflocculant to a pasty mess and seeing it instantly get less viscous. Here’s a short video about flocculated and deflocculated glaze preparation by the inimitable John Britt…

I followed the recipe to a T but tried to use a roller and the shelf soaked up the water in the kilnwash instantly. After removing that, I soaked the shelf with more water and tried a brush. This worked much better but not what I wanted exactly… so I tried something else. I took one of my brand new shelves and ran it under the kitchen sink until it was completely saturated then poured the kilnwash out of a measuring cup and let it “level” out. There was much tilting of the shelf back and forth to get coverage but look at this beautiful pool of kilnwash on the new shelf…

kilnwash

It dried nicely too. I don’t usually get carried away like this on this type of activity but thought that may the thing to do next would be to add a little ridge along the perimeter of the shelf and “fill” the space with a perfectly level shallow pond… we’ll see. Last but not least, there’s been a lot of shellacking goin’ on. This pic has all the pieces with two of the three coats of shellac…

greenware

Might be able to fire in another month or so.