Techno-ology: A bit on kilns

Kilns! Magic firing devices!!!! Wonderful firey ovens!!!! There are many many different kilns but they fall into four categories:

Electric Kilns have elements that line the wall of the kiln. Much like an electrical element on a stove top, except far more numerous and stronger. The kiln is made of highly refractory material to insulate. There are mechanical electric kilns that work on a basic switch on, off, higher etc. and computerized electric kilns where you can pre-program a schedule for the elements to turn on and off when planed.

Updraft Kilns can be heated by anything (wood, oil, gas for example) where the flow of heat and/or flame (also known at the draft) is more or less only directed up, usually because the chimney is designed at the pinnacle of the kiln.

Downdraft Kilns are kilns constructed so that the flow of heat is pulled up and then down and out the chimney.

Crossdraft Kilns are kilns constructed so that the flow of heat is pulled up and then down and out the chimney.

Within these basic groups there are many many many different kind of kilns. There are even multi directional kilns that are a combination of some of the about. Kilns can be as complicated or as simple as you make them. All these different types of kilns have various advantages and disadvantages. An electric kiln for instance makes for a very even stagnant firing, where as a crossdraft wood kiln allows for lost of ash dispersal. So you’ve got how a kiln is built effecting your pots but also make pots to suit your kiln. This all escalates into the never ending possibilities that keep all ceramists forever problem solving and discovering. There are so many variables in the firing process that meticulous notes are made, know as kiln logs. This allows the potter to compare the results yielded by different firings. Here is an example from the ANU Brighid kiln book and a template I made up for soda firing:

Lingo: The field of ceramics has many unique words and notions. It certainly helps when trying to talk about ceramics to know the basics so throughout my posts (as of now!!!!) you can find words in orange text and at the bottom of the page dictionaryesk definitions of those words with a bit of personal commentary. All grey text in this post is explained. You can also refer to the Lingo page for more

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