On Hoping We Don’t Burn the House Down

Posted on February 10, 2012


We were gifted an amazing electric pottery wheel a while back by some friends in the area. As with most things in my life, I didn’t hesitate to jump in with both feet, make a fairly substantial investment in tools and supplies for the craft, and then, as with most crafts and hobbies I take on, I realized it was not as easy as I would have liked, or that someone else in the house doing it is much better at it than me (*ahem* my husband) and then I slow down on learning or trying so as not to be shown up or have to put in sooo much effort.

Thankfully, even though I am not excellent on the wheel – centering is a beast and I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can fashion even the most elementary of pots on a wheel now – I picked up a bazillion slip molds from a gentleman who listed a thousand or so on Freecycle. While making slip is a bit difficult since it needs to be a smooth slip rather than having chunks and I did not purchase slip, but instead purchased clay that I used scrap pieces of to make slip, I found I’m a bit more adept and creating molded pieces that stay together and by nature, are the appropriate shapes (round rather than wavy and oblong) that I want them.

An awesome new friend that I met through a Tampa Free Skool class on soap making that she taught mentioned in passing that she had a small kiln. I assumed it was set up at her house and asked if I might be able to make use of it, but it turns out that it doesn’t require a utility plug, and is small enough that we could actually bring it to our house (as it was not set up at her house, but in storage).

There are no instructions with the kiln, that is originally intended for glass work and fiber (it’s technically a fiber furnace, though what kind of fiber goes in kilns, I have no idea), but it dials up to 8 and then HIGH and I did a little bit of research on the ramp heat for a bisque firing (the rate at which temperature is supposed to increase while you fire a piece). Despite having the kiln in the car port and far enough away that were something to go badly awry and explode, I was still pretty nervous as the temperature topped 500 Fahrenheit that the whole thing would just burst into flames and take our house down with it. Nevertheless, that did not happen, and we ended up with some clinky bisque fired pieces when the 12 hour period passed and the morning came with the kiln having cooled down entirely (which I thought wouldn’t happen and would be entirely too fast for the pottery, but they seem sound).

The two pieces on the left were done by my husband and the one on the right is the first bowl I managed to make on the wheel.

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