Wednesday, 3 September 2014

First Firing

Even if this is not your first kiln there are a number of things to do when starting.

The first is to read the manual. Obvious, but in our enthusiasm to get started, reading seems boring. It is essential to understand what the manufacturer wants you to do and to understand how the kiln and controller work.

Then, you can prepare kiln. Test fire the kiln empty to make sure it works and burn out any binders remaining in the kiln materials. You can do this firing at about 400C/hour as there is no glass to damage. Fire to around 800C. Then you can shut off, or programme a dummy anneal. This also ensures you know how to work the controller.

While waiting for the kiln to complete the fast test firing, read the manual again.

When the kiln is cool, apply kiln wash to the bottom (if it is brick) and lower sides, below any side elements. If the bottom or sides are fibre, no kiln wash is required. Kiln wash the shelf and any kiln furniture too.

Now is the time to test for how even the heat is in your kiln. Arrange the kiln furniture around the shelf as described and put glass over. The kiln furniture can be any refactory material, even folded 3 mm fibre paper will be strong enough to hold the small pieces of glass above the shelf. Fire the kiln as described in the Tech Note 1.

Now try out the suggestions in the manual, especially the programming of the controller, even if it has pre-programmed schedules. Look at Bullseye and Spectrum sites to get sample schedules. Enter these as trial schedules.

Then you should be ready to fire the first piece of glass. Place the glass in the kiln, programme it, and record the information about the firing. Now turn the kiln on for the first real fuse.