Read these 17 Kilns Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Doll Making tips and hundreds of other topics.
Legs can be tricky. If you can stand the leg with the feet up, place it in that position on the shelf. When placing the leg horizontal, you need to support the leg with a silica blanket or sand. Any part that will not touch the shelf needs support. You can use the shelf post covered with the silica blanket under the ankle. A silica blanket covered horizontal post on either side of the leg to form a "V" for the leg to rest in also helps prevent collapse.
If silica sand is not available, an alternative is pure white sand. Toys R Us (the only place I have been able to find it) carries sandbox white sand. It is very pure and has almost no black specks and is veryfine. I use it all the time. Once I tried pool filter sand but it was neither fine nor pure and my pieces had sand imbedded in them. I had to throw a good bit of the load away.
Shoulderheads can be a problem in the kiln. Two weeks ago I had a waste shoulder/head, Pope John Paul II. Instead of putting it on a post, I turned it upside down like a dome head, leaning the back shoulderplate part against the kiln wall. Much to my delight, I had a perfect firing. I poured three more heads and tried it again with the same good results.
Planning how to prop a piece before you place it in the kiln will help prevent accidents in the kiln. I had a shoulderhead of Pope John Paul II I had placed over a padded post that was too short. When I lifted the shoulderhead off the post, the post fell over and broke several pieces that I had already put in the kiln.
When buying a small kiln, look at the manufacturer's additional items you can purchase for the kiln. If you can buy an extra ring, will it have an element for heating the extra area? My first kiln was an Evenheat with inside measurements of 9x11 inches. I could fire a doll with arms to the wrist and legs to the ankle (Kitten), but not my llama. I purchased an extra 4" ring, which did not have any elements. The kiln would not fire to cone 6. The inside area was too large for the elements to reach the necessary temperature. Seven years later that kiln is still working and I'm glad I have it, but even happier that I also have a larger one.
There are several ways to handle a dome head without causing it to collapse when firing to bisque. Set the head on its top. It can be held in place by using silica sand (follow precautions when using the silica sand), or silica prop. You can also use kiln shelf posts on its side with prop where the greenware stouches the post. This will hold up the head. By having the opening up, gasses and heat are allowed to escape without putting stress on the piece.
Prop can be used to support your pieces during bisque fire. Do not pack tightly. Use loosly packed prop inside large pieces. I have always been told that if there is 5 inches of open space, you should put in prop. Too much prop could cause the piece to crack. So less is better when working with prop.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|