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Getting Ready to Fire a Kiln

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Never fire/load your kiln until shelves and furniture has been treated with kiln wash. Risky.

It is not a good idea to load your items on the bottom of your kiln, you should use some short stilts and place one shelf over the bottom and then build up your shelves to heights needed.

Try to load your kiln evenly, arranging items of the same height on each shelf.

Shelves should be placed so that at least one kiln element is in between them in order to make sure heat is evenly distributed.

You should leave about one inch of head room between your tallest item and the shelf above it.

It is a good idea to put smaller items on the bottom shelf and the very top shelf with the larger/medium sized items in the middle. Of course, it is not a good idea to stack space bars too high as they become unstable, so if you have very large pieces, they should be on the top.

Do not over crowd pieces, allow space so that the heat/air may flow freely around them. Unpainted greeware can touch if needed and you can loosely pile small items like ornaments or magnets. Glazes of course, should not touch and you should leave about 1 inch of space between them so they do not grab each other during the firing. Your glazes will bubble up and if they touch each other, they can pull each other off their stilts.

Use stilts under glazed items so they won't fuse to the shelves, unless you have dry-footed the items. If they are dry-foot, be sure there is a clean unglazed rim on the bottom of the sides to allow for glazes to move down during firing.

Porcelain and stoneware items should be dry-footed and not put on stilts.

Large flat surfaces like platters or chess boards should NEVER be fired on the bottom shelf of the kiln. If possible, they should be fired on their sides during greenware firing (lean them against a half-shelf to support them in a perpendicular placement. During a glaze firing, use off-set stilts so one side is raised slightly higher than the other side. This helps to minimize pressure on the center and stabilize weight disbursement which can sometimes be the cause of cracking, breaking and warping.

Over glaze firings (gold, mother of pearl, decals, china paints, etc.) do not normally need to be stilted unless firing hotter than cone 017. Some glazes can soften at that point and possibly fuse to the shelf.

 

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