First loaded kiln firing

Morning: Will there be any happy accidents?

I can tell already there were some unhappy ones, some explosions. I had the kiln on low to drive out moisture for more than five hours. Either it got too hot even on low, which is a real possibility, or there was still water in the pieces when I turned it up. I went from low directly to high after finding the switch on the upper section didn’t work on the medium setting.

Another surpise, and a bit of a disappointment, was that the color was burned out of a red underglaze which has in the past — despite it’s name — provided brilliant results. I need to purchase more cones to get a better idea of what’s going on in the kiln. I knew this already; I was just being cheap.


Afternoon: After waiting a couple of hours for a friend to come by (who wanted to be here at this momentous occasion) we unloaded the old beast (I think I need to name the kiln). Only one of the pieces blew up beyond use, and there was one notable “happy accident.”

Into one of the small clay sculptures I inserted some Herkimer crystals I bought on Ebay. I included these in the earlier test firing to see how the heat affected them; at cone 04 they came out the same way they’d gone in. However, the lasting heat (the result of a full kiln, I assume) during this firing caused them to change. They cracked inside and now show off prisms of color. These larger crystals also caused hairline cracks in the clay which will change how I finish the piece.

I don’t feel too bad losing just one piece, although it was a piece I would have liked to have. My next move is to smoke the terra sigs.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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