Monday, 8 August 2011

New Kiln, New Horizons

The trip to Stourbridge gave me inspiration in unexpected
ways. It gave me a new appreciation of techniques like fusing, stained glass,
and casting, as well as ideas of ways I could incorporate some of my lampwork
into these varied disciplines, in fact I was brimming with ideas!

One serious restraint (along with cash for materials!) was
that my current kiln is ideal for annealing, which is what I bought it for, but
it won't go high enough for fusing, let alone casting, and new kilns aren't
cheap! However last week I saw this old kiln for sale, and got it for a song!

It's an old ceramics kiln, but has a controller which is
suitable for glass which needs greater control. However it was in a sorry
state, and the two elements were broken and hanging in pieces inside the kiln,
plus I didn't know if the controller was still ok, but took a punt at it anyway
from only seeing a few blurry pictures!

First job was the new element; a quick call into Kilncare Kilncare
whom I know by reputation as being first rate at sorting out elements. They'd
never made elements for this kiln, so I sent them the best remaining element,
which was in about three parts! I wasn't sure if there was more missing! As it
was they thought the element with it was too long for the rating, so made
elements to match what they felt it should be. I can't praise their service enough,
I posted the element out on Monday morning, and Thursday morning I had two new
elements in the post, and at a reasonable price too! So much quicker and easier
than trying to get 240v elements in from USA!

The next task was getting out the remains of the old
element, which turned out to be a much trickier job than I expected. I am not
sure what had happened to the kiln, but a lot of the coils had become firmly embedded
in the brick lining. Working away I also realised that much of it had also
melted into the bricks, leaving a metallic coating. I really needed to get that
off, as putting a new element on it would either short it out or cause hot
spots which might also damage the element. This took ages to do, and caused
more of the fragile and battered lining to come away. I had to turn and move
the kiln around to make sure I didn't miss any, a mirror came in use here
spotting bits of element that I originally missed.

When I finally got it all out, and hovered out the dust and
debris, I installed the new elements, which took no time at all and fitted

The only thing that worried me was that one of the channels in the
kiln-bricks had come away, so had to prop a bit of brick in case the element
started to sag when heated. I then fired it up, which a very slow rise to 200
degrees, which went fine, so did it on a full rapid fire to go up to 400degrees
C. Not a problem, it actually overshot the temperature, probably because it's
so well insulated. I am used to my fibre lined kiln, so was amazed how quickly
it got to temperature.

It still needs a little more work, the feet on the base are
bent, and I've ordered some kiln cement to sort out the damaged channel plus
some kiln furniture like props and boards, but now that I know it works I don't
mind spending a little more to get it up and ready for the next phase - melting
glass in it!

1 comment:

  1. Well done for such a good repair job! May your recycled kiln deliver you many many wonderful new pieces. I will be interested to see what you produce