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firing a kiln by sense

updated tue 24 jan 06


mel jacobson on sat 21 jan 06

i know for sure that color alone is not
the answer for judging a kiln...for temp/reduction/finish.

you use all your senses.
smell being one of the most important.

when a kiln is nearly finished the entire room takes on
an odor of heat, completion.
you can sense the radiation of heat from the kiln and stack.
your hands need gloves to do the simple things like
pulling a plug, adjusting air flow.

all of your senses are at work.
goggles come out.

it is the same for safety. if anything smells different you
are alerted `right now`.

it also becomes an alarm clock, by the hour

if you have a good sense of how you stack your know,
the same each time. when you hit 9 know that things
are almost there...the shine on the pots when you check the cones
is evident. (remember, they are far brighter in a kiln than they
are cool.)

but, in the end..cones work best. i never fire without them.
all of this talk about judging is fun to think about, experience
and test yourself. in the final judgement, you trust your cones.

on my big gas kiln i have an oxyprobe, regular pyrometer, digital pyrometer
and three sets of cones inside....always in the same place. but, if they
all failed i would use the clock on the wall, and my senses...and
get through it just fine.

i have pyrometers on both of my electric bisque kilns. why not?
i collect old pyrometers and fix them up. counting the farm
we must have 10 of them. several in reserve. all the kilns at the
farm have working pyrometers...they just sit all winter in the cold
and rain/snow. we have no idea how they work so well. almost dead
on. two of them were made in the 40's.
we have to weld the tips back on the thermocouples/use borax
and some careful heat...and they are like new. it is like the old saw/
if you don't move things around...mess with them..they work just
from mel/

Ivor and Olive Lewis on sun 22 jan 06

Dear mel jacobson,=20

As I recall, Scenting, or using our noses, brings us into intimate =
contact with the world of Chemicals. And I do not dispute your =
contention that we can smell what is happening, in fact, I applaud it.

Touch to sense heat is one thing. However, I have great fears for the =
sanity of mankind if we should, by some biological means, start to sense =
electromagnetic radiation with our noses. With ever increasing amounts =
of ER being pumped into the space between electrons, neutrons and =
protons to maintain modern forms of communication; radio, television and =
power transmission, we would perish under the sensory overload.

By all means be Poetic, but keep within the bounds of reason.

Thanks for the Iron Mineral information, That is a good pointer for =
people who like to prospect for unusual things to bring to their work.

Bert regards,

Ivor Lewis.
South Australia.