Monthly Tech-Tip from Tony Hansen SignUp

No tracking! No ads!

200 mesh | 325 mesh | 3D Design | 3D Printer | 3D Printing Clay | 3D Slicer | 3D-Printing | Abrasion Ceramics | Acidic Oxides | Agglomeration | AI in Ceramics | Alkali | Alkaline Earths | Amorphous | Apparent porosity | Artware | Ball milling | Bamboo Glaze | Base Glaze | Base-Coat Dipping Glaze | Basic Oxides | Batch Recipe | Bisque | Bit Image | Black Core | Bleeding of colors | Blender Mixing | Blunging | Body Bloating | Body glaze Interface | Body Warping | Bone China | Borate | Boron Blue | Boron Frit | Borosilicate | Breaking Glaze | Brick Making | Brushing Glaze | Calcination | Calculated Thermal Expansion | Candling | Carbon Burnout | Carbon trap glazes | CAS Numbers | Casting-Jiggering | Catch Glaze | Celadon Glaze | Ceramic | Ceramic Binder | Ceramic Decals | Ceramic Glaze | Ceramic Glaze Defects | Ceramic Ink | Ceramic Material | Ceramic Oxide | Ceramic Slip | Ceramic Stain | Ceramic Tile | Ceramics | Characterization | Chemical Analysis | Chromaticity | Clay | Clay body | Clay Body Porosity | Clay Stiffness | Clays for Ovens and Heaters | Co-efficient of Thermal Expansion | Code Numbering | Coil pottery | Colloid | Colorant | Commercial hobby brushing glazes | Cone 1 | Cone 5 | Cone 6 | Cone plaque | Copper Red | Cordierite Ceramics | Crackle glaze | Cristobalite | Cristobalite Inversion | Crucible | Crystalline glazes | Crystallization | Cuerda Seca | Cutlery Marking | Decomposition | Deflocculation | Deoxylidration | Differential thermal analysis | Digitalfire Foresight | Digitalfire Insight | Digitalfire Reference Library | Dimpled glaze | Dip Glazing | Dipping Glaze | Dishwasher Safe | Dolomite Matte | Drop-and-Soak Firing | Drying Crack | Drying Performance | Drying Shrinkage | Dunting | Dust Pressing | Earthenware | Efflorescence | Encapsulated Stain | Engobe | Eutectic | Fast Fire Glazes | Fat Glaze | Feldspar Glazes | Fining Agent | Firebrick | Fireclay | Fired Strength | Firing Schedule | Firing Shrinkage | Flameware | Flashing | Flocculation | Fluid Melt Glazes | Flux | Food Safe | Foot Ring | Forming Method | Formula Ratios | Formula Weight | Frit | Fritware | Functional | GHS Safety Data Sheets | Glass vs. Crystalline | Glass-Ceramic Glazes | Glaze Blisters | Glaze Bubbles | Glaze Chemistry | Glaze Compression | Glaze Crawling | Glaze Crazing | Glaze Durability | Glaze fit | Glaze Gelling | Glaze laydown | Glaze Layering | Glaze Mixing | Glaze Recipes | Glaze shivering | Glaze Shrinkage | Glaze thickness | Globally Harmonized Data Sheets | Glossy Glaze | Green Strength | Grog | Gunmetal glaze | High Temperature Glaze | Hot Pressing | Incised decoration | Industrial clay body | Ink Jet Printing | Inside-only Glazing | Insight-Live | Iron Red Glaze | Jasper Ware | Jiggering | Kaki | Kiln Controller | Kiln Firing | Kiln fumes | Kiln venting system | Kiln Wash | Kneading clay | Kovar Metal | Laminations | Leaching | Lead in Ceramic Glazes | Leather hard | Limit Formula | Limit Recipe | Liner Glaze | Liner glazing | Liquid Bright Colors | LOI | Low Temperature Glaze | Majolica | Marbling | Material Substitution | Matte Glaze | Maturity | Maximum Density | MDT | Mechanism | Medium Temperature Glaze | Melt Fluidity | Melting Temperature | Metal Oxides | Metallic Glazes | Micro Organisms | Microwave Safe | Mineral phase | Mineralogy | Mocha glazes | Mohs Hardness | Mole% | Monocottura | Mosaic Tile | Mottled | Mullite Crystals | Native Clay | Non Oxide Ceramics | Oil-spot glaze | Once fire glazing | Opacifier | Opacity | Ovenware | Overglaze | Oxidation Firing | Oxide Formula | Oxide Interaction | Oxide System | Particle orientation | Particle Size Distribution | Particle Sizes | PCE | Permeability | Phase Diagram | Phase Separation | Physical Testing | Pinholing | Plainsman Clays | Plaster Bat | Plaster table | Plasticine | Plasticity | Plucking | Porcelain | Porcelaineous Stoneware | Pour Glazing | Powder Processing | Precipitation | Primary Clay | Primitive Firing | Propane | Propeller Mixer | Pugmill | Pyroceramics | Pyrometric Cone | Quartz Inversion | Raku | Reactive Glazes | Reduction Firing | Reduction Speckle | Refiring Ceramics | Refractory | Refractory Ceramic Coatings | Representative Sample | Restaurant Ware | Rheology | Rutile Blue Glazes | Salt firing | Sanitary ware | Sculpture | Secondary Clay | Shino Glazes | Side Rails | Sieve | Sieve Shaker | Silica:Alumina Ratio | Silk screen printing | Sintering | Slaking | Slip Casting | Slip Trailing | Slipware | Slurry | Slurry Processing | Slurry Up | Soaking | Soluble colors | Soluble Salts | Specific gravity | Splitting | Spray Glazing | Stain Medium | Stoneware | Stull Chart | Sulfate Scum | Sulfates | Surface Area | Surface Tension | Suspension | Tapper Clay | Tenmoku | Terra Cotta | Terra Sigilatta | | Theoretical Material | Thermal Conductivity | Thermal shock | Thermocouple | Thixotropy | Throwing | Tony Hansen | Toxicity | Trafficking | Translucency | Transparent Glazes | Triaxial Glaze Blending | Ultimate Particles | Underglaze | Unity Formula | Upwork | Variegation | Viscosity | Vitreous | Vitrification | Volatiles | Water Content | Water in Ceramics | Water Smoking | Water Solubility | Wedging | Whiteware | Wood Ash Glaze | Wood Firing | Zero3 | Zero4 | Zeta Potential

Test Kiln

A test kiln is a must for all potters and small manufacturers, even serious hobbyists. Here is why.

Key phrases linking here: test kiln - Learn more

Details

A test kiln is a small kiln having the ability to fire to the temperature and firing schedule of your production kiln. It uses on a fraction of the energy. A shelf in a test kiln, the heating of which takes most of the heat-up energy, might weigh 1kg (or as little at 500g if you make them yourself). Even a half-shelf in a studio production kiln can weigh 8-10kg. Test kilns can fire in a fraction of the time and the controllers on modern devices are amazing.

A test kiln is a must for all potters and small manufacturers, even serious hobbyists. When people are first caught up by the magic of ceramics, they are just happy to make a vase or bowl that does not fall down on the potters wheel or crack on drying. But the charm wears off quickly when large kiln loads of ware are lost due to inexperience, mistakes or unfulfilled expectations with a body or glaze. Later, when customers return ware that is crazing or leaking or leaching or cutlery marking, you will to continue can really be tested!

You may be taken aback by the price, but weigh that against what such a device can deliver. A test kiln, more than anything, determines where your ceramic knowledge and ability will be in a year. Five years. People who only have a production kiln do few tests. Why? Because most tests are failures, in larger kilns that costs money and time! Ability to test things is the principal enabler to your improvement as a potter. Having a test kiln is not an "extra cost", it is the "first investment" in making you independent and unique, it is the key factor in greatly increasing the success-rate in the production kiln you may later use.

People with test kilns commit themselves to think more about the technical aspects of ceramics. They learn why things happen. They are likely to be interested in how functional and durable their ware is. They are not taken in by the trafficking in recipes. Those pictures with the recipes might look flashy but they seldom work because the author does not include critical detail on making them work and the author likely does not have a test kiln! People with test kilns are more likely to know about what bodies and glazes do at higher and lower temperatures that the one at which they fire. They know about things like vitrification, density, firing shrinkage, thermal expansion, glaze fit. All by actual experience in firing tests. They are more prone to think outside the box, to dream and test the dreams. They see more clearly the infinite universe of techniques and materials that is ceramics. A test kiln makes you independent, able to utilize local materials or mix-your-own own instead of buying premixed. The ability to test will enable you to work at lower temperatures, where more testing is required to find success. It will enable you to develop the ceramic traditions of the area in which you live. Or to experiment with crystalline glazes, translucent porcelain, frit ware, engobes, decals, bone china, agate ware, porcelain jewelry, fast-fire, and more.

Having a test kiln will enable you to accomplish something few other potters do: Work at multiple temperatures. You will look back at working at one temperature as restrictive, primitive. Or energy wasting if you fired middle or high temperature. Even the ability to fire certain glazes or bodies one cone higher or lower can greatly improve ware quality.

If you make small pieces a test kiln can be a production kiln. You can even develop a fast-fire process that enables firing it multiple times a day. Coupled with a plaster table and a good propeller mixer, you could be independent and develop and produce a totally unique type of product. If you make high-value pieces a test kiln could be a far more practical production device. Our ConeArt 119 can hold 5 mugs so even some functional ware can be done. Considering that many test kilns run on 110 volts, the true practicality for a small scale manufacturer at home can be seen. Imagine what could be done in 3D printing custom-shape refractory setters, this could really maximize the use of the space for a production purpose.å

Related Information

A test kiln with firing controller: A necessity.

Tap picture for full size and resolution

Every potter should have one of these. This one has a Bartlett Genesis electronic controller, you will never go back after having one. Start with a kiln like this and then graduate to having a large, second kiln. We have done 950 firings on this one in the past few of years, it is still like new. Ongoing testing is the key to the constant development of your products and their quality.

Two standalone electric wall-mount kiln controllers. But they are very different.

Tap picture for full size and resolution

The red controller on the right is a Skutt Kilnmaster, the blue controller to the left is an Orton Autofire. As of 2022 both of these are now ancient devices, having been replaced with newer touch panel units. The principle of operation for both is the same: They turn the power on and off in a duty cycle to control temperature rise. A 50% duty cycle, for example, sees the power on for 50% of the time. The length of individual bursts increases with kiln temperature. The controllers monitor a thermocouple in the kiln to determine the length and frequency of power bursts needed. Both of these devices are external to the kilns (but there is a big difference). The KilnMaster controller is attached to the 220V power line and the kiln power line attaches to it (there are heavy-duty electrical relays inside). The blue Autofire controller does not have internal heavy-duty relays or switches, they are in the kiln. The KilnMaster is thus more flexible since it can connect to any kiln, but it is also triple the price. In 2022 the AutoFire now has its own relays like the KilnMaster.

A modern electric test kiln, a marvel of utility

Tap picture for full size and resolution
A ConeArt 119 electric test kiln

This is a ConeArt 119D, 0.57 cu ft, 11"x9" cone 10 test kiln. While there is 120v model, don't take a chance, go with 220v (actually ours is 208v). Ours fires 1000 times on a set of elements, mostly in the cone 4-7 range. The old BX controller is shown here, it is $300 cheaper, but don’t even think about getting that! Do not use your electric like a pop up toaster, make it a technological enabler of custom firing schedules, get the Genesis GX. Having good control of firing is a key to success and this is superior for that. These kilns are economical to fire. Big enough for 5 mugs, but I typically fire a dozen clay and glaze test specimens. We make our own super-thin shelves. The controller holds about 20 schedules, even controllable remotely (it is Wi-Fi connected). We can fire cone 04 up and down in three hours! Of course, since this type of kiln can enable so much more testing you also need a code numbering system and a place to record and search all the results: An account at insight-live.com.

A small 220V electric test kiln

Tap picture for full size and resolution

Very well endowed with elements. From the back view you can see how simple the wiring is on a kiln like this.

Inbound Photo Links


All the things a potter needs: materials, equipment, supplies, tools
Here is a good start to doing serious ceramic production at home

Links

URLs https://www.eieinstruments.com/pharmaceutical_and_microbiology/microbiology_testing_instruments/laboratory-furnace
Laboratory Furnace
Glossary Brick Making
Brick-making is surprisingly demanding. Materials blending and processing, forming, drying and firing heavy and thick objects as fast as possible are like no other ceramic manufacturing challenge.
By Tony Hansen
Follow me on

Got a Question?

Buy me a coffee and we can talk



https://digitalfire.com, All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy