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Firing is obviously a crucial step in creating your ware, but it can be a daunting one. As Tom McInnerney of the Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation points out in his “Firing Basics” article (Pottery Production Practices, March 2008), firing can feel like an almost magical process that we have no control over, but that is not the case. “You can have as much control over the firing process as you want, if you apply a few simple rules and keep good records of your firings,” he writes.
Optimizing your ware placement/loading and heating rate are important to achieve success, and Tom recommends the use of pyrometric cones to measure heat work. He also discusses other considerations -- like the use of controllers and vents -- that can have a strong impact on firing. Keeping track of your firings through continuous record keeping is another great concept that he details. “If you are not satisfied with the uniformity of heat work within your kiln, record keeping arms you with the information you’ll need to make the appropriate changes to either the heating rate and/or soak time for the next firing,” he writes.
Using the best kiln for your specific application is also vital. Arnold Howard with Paragon Industries recently shared some tips on “How to Choose an Electric Kiln” (Pottery Production Practices, March 2008). He discusses the importance of temperature, size, electrical issues, shape (round or square), loading (top or front), refractories choices, and manual vs. automatic models. “Once you understand the differences between various types of kilns, choosing the best one for your application will be easy,” writes Arnold.
Links to both of these articles are included below.