Having only ever fired ceramics at university, I was used to just handing over all my greenware and glazed ceramics to Ben the technician, and then collecting them all fired and done on Monday! Since buying my kiln, I have spent 4 months experimenting and I have learnt so much!
Deciding which kiln
Like everything when you first start looking, choosing a kiln was quite overwhelming! There are different sizes, makes, models and amperage and I just wanted something that was reliable, efficient and suited my work. After looking on forums and other websites, the Skutt and the Rohdes Ecotop seemed to be the best choices for me. The top loaders were much cheaper than front loaders, and from my understanding there is no difference to the firing outcome but in the way it is packed (as in the top loaders you lean over the kiln and stack shelves from above). Although the Rohdes Ecotop was quite a bit more expensive, the efficiency of the Ecotop series meant over the years I would save the money spent on the electricity. It also seemed a really well made piece of equipment…so I settled on the Rohdes Ecotop.
I wanted one that was big enough so that I didn’t need to be firing 2/3 times a week, but not so big that I was firing it half full and wasting electricity. The 60L seemed the perfect size for this! I have found that it still takes quite a few weeks to make enough work to fill the kiln (as my works tend to be much smaller)! It is also sometimes a little frustrating when I have a few test tiles that I want to fire but haven’t got enough glazed works to fill the rest of the kiln. But I have tried to just organise myself so that every glaze firing I make sure I have a shelf of experiments!
I found this probably unnecessarily confusing! Some of the small kilns with a low amp you can just plug in and go! However, the Ecotop I had chosen was 16amp, which meant I needed a 16amp plug fitting from the mains so it has its own circuit (like a cooker). This wasn’t a very expensive job, and can be done by a certified electrician. If you are wondering how much it would cost per firing, there are kiln calculators than you can use for rough estimates.
The Ecotop kiln is very easy to programme. You can have as many segments as you need and decide on your ramp rate (which is temperature you want it to increase per hour). It also comes with programmes installed already, personally I don’t use them, but you could if you wanted to! I had never programmed a kiln before I bought my own and it was really easy to follow the instructions! The controller also tells you what temperature it is at throughout the whole firing and also informs you when it is cooling and ended.
So far, love my kiln! Will do another post soon about firing it for the first time! 🙂