Liza Curtis on wed 12 oct 05
I am new to this listserv, so I hopefully will not make any huge annoying mistakes while trying to work this thing!
I am setting up a smal business at home making decorative and functional ceramic works and would love any advice. I have worked at a production (but not mold made) studio and have many years of experience working with clay, but no experience in running this kind of business. I have been reading a lot of articles etc... but still feeling a bit overwhelmed. I love clay, and know I want to do this full time- and am trying to figure out where to start with what kind of work to make! That probably sounds silly, as I can make any kind of work I want- but where to start? Any thoughts on this budding artist dilamma? I am fortunate that my husband is supportive of this but I am a bit concerned I have put the cart before the horse!
On a more technical note, I bought a medium sized Skutt kiln from a local art center who was about to get rid of it. I am concerned about testing it and safety as the kiln is in my garage. I was actually considering hiring a kiln specialist to come over and check it out.
Arnold Howard on wed 12 oct 05
From: "Liza Curtis"
> On a more technical note, I bought a medium sized Skutt kiln from a local
> art center who was about to get rid of it. I am concerned about testing it
> and safety as the kiln is in my garage. I was actually considering hiring
> a kiln specialist to come over and check it out.
Liza, you could check out the kiln yourself. Here are general instructions
that I sent out recently in my email newsletter:
1) Always disconnect the power. Then remove the switch box following the
instructions in your kiln manual. If your switch box has a Kiln Sitter, pull
straight out to avoid damaging the Kiln Sitter tube.
2) Unless your switch box is hinged, find something to prop it up so that it
doesn't pull against the element wires. Position the switch box so that you
can see inside it easily.
3) Dust can cause parts to overheat, because dust acts as an insulator.
After changing the elements or thermocouple, blow dust out of the switch box
using canned air. (It is available from computer or camera stores or even
Wal-Mart.) Wear a facemask. Do not hold the canned air upside down, and
never spray yourself. (The air gets cold enough to cause injury.) Hold the
air nozzle 6" away from the parts you are spraying.
You could also use a vacuum cleaner and a dry paintbrush to clean the switch
box of switch-operated kilns. But I do not recommend them for cleaning
digital kilns. They can create a static charge that could damage the
4) Examine the wires. Use a flashlight if lighting around the kiln is dim.
After decades of heat, the insulation on wires becomes brittle. Signs of
aging insulation are white wires that are brownish and colored wires that
are fading. When you bend wires, do you hear or feel the insulation
cracking? When insulation cracks off the wires, it is also likely that
strands of wire are breaking, too, which can raise the resistance and cause
the wires to overheat. Replace damaged wires. Make sure the terminals are
tight when installing new wires.
Do not use electrical tape to repair wiring inside a kiln switch box. When I
first started working at Paragon, electrical tape was not even allowed
inside the building.
5) After cleaning the switch box and checking the wires for heat damage,
then check the wire terminals for tightness. If terminals seem corroded, but
everything is working, I would not clean the terminals. I would leave well
enough alone. (On the other hand, if a switch has stopped working, sometimes
just cleaning the terminals can get it working again.)
Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com