Tuesday, August 30, 2011


These are the remnants of the elements I tediously removed from my kiln last week.

A few weeks ago I pushed my kiln twice, trying to reach cone 10. It was a futile pursuit and I new it after the first failed attempt; But I did not want to replace an element. It's such an effort. Elements twist, slump and fuse to the kiln, or at least embed themselves in the grooves made for them to sit in. It's a tedious job with pointy nose pliers to lever and snap them out.
Reluctantly I took the side of the kiln off to measure the electrical resistance in the elements, to see which one was weak and needing replacement. Unfortunately they all rated the same. I new the bottom one was not that old, but unable to argue with an amp meter. I had to remove them all.
Only having one spare element, meant a 300KM round trip to Dandenong (VIC, AUS.) to buy a few kilos of Kanthal wire. That, though frustrating in itself, was the easy bit.
With some help and encouragement from Justin, the Technician at my local Uni. we wound new elements. That was not all though. I had to count the coils, measure the amps and bend and twist them to fit the kiln. And that was the easy part.
After spending hours crouched into a kiln prying the old elements out. I had to fit the new ones, with many alterations to what I should have already been the right fit. Then I drilled holes and fitted rods to stop them from escaping during firing. Justin suggested hand made elements tend to fall out. Luckily they have not. They could not, after the effort I went to to keep them in check.
On Friday I fired a successful bisque.
Next, the big test I was dreading, a cone 10 firing.
Late last night I turned the kiln on and crossed my fingers. Just before 1PM today, looking through the spy hole after blowing a few breaths through so as to clear the atmosphere to see the cone. A sigh of relief; it was a full arc, touching its tip to the kiln shelf. Cone 10 over. And over in the time I had calculated.
With a brand new state of the art potters wheel and new elements in the kiln, it should be plain sailing from here; Though I thought that after getting the new wheel.

Just in case, I've found a book by Emmanuel Cooper that I should get:


Anna said...

i do admire you for all that work! May the kiln gods smile on you :)

Elaine Bradley said...

I firmly believe all that mammoth effort will pay off. Well done. Loving those bud vases of yours, they remind me of a body of work I did years ago and am hankering to revisit. Your glazes are always delicious too.