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:
Growing proudly in my (mainly) indigenous garden (definitely no exotics, except the ever determined oxalis pes-caprae, It's a persistent devil), is this Pterostylis (Greenhood) orchid (Flower head: 30mm high, 20mm wide. Sepal tip to sepal tip: 25mm).
I first found a "Greenhood orchid" in the Whipstick forest this time last year. Until then the forest had become a mainly dry desolate place, only the large Iron bark Eucalyptus, Wattle and Melaleuca decussata, in abundance, as a result of over 10 years drought.
Now quite the contrary, all sorts of orchids have sprung up; including my other favourite, Leopard Orchid.
I seem to be spending my time procrastinating: looking back through previous work.
It has been a year of un reliable equipment for me. Earlier it was my potters wheel that was broken; resulting in the bees knees new direct drive wheel (that has a different lug setting for batts, of course. Resulting in the need to make new ones).
The latest is my kiln. It's electric with a Harco (electronic controller (a must have for the potter that enjoys sleeping regular hours)) kiln sitter. The last few firing have been a struggle. I thought that one of the elements must have been much older and delivering less energy. Turns out they are all delivering the same, all less than desirable. So, rather bravely, I decided to buy the Kanthal wire and wind new elements myself. As if getting an old element out of a kiln wall wasn't hard enough. I now find myself reluctant to start.
I think this time I have raised the skill level too high.
At this point, I wish I still had access to a gas or even wood fire kiln. The usual ease of an electric kiln does have its trials.
I look forward to the time when I can fire at will again.
In the bowl pictured above, the yellow/orange is a reflection of the fire burning brightly in my studio fireplace (much needed this week). I love that this fire is producing part of the ingredients for my next ash glaze.
So much of my practice in ceramics has more than one life or single use.
This vessel has a Tenmoku (recipe in a previous post) glaze.
Made by me about six years ago; a keeper, and pride and joy of my personal collection.
I'm glad that I have kept some pieces along the way. I am all too eager to throw any unsold pieces into the bin these days.
It is cathartic to smash ceramics though.