Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I checked the weather reports and low and behold we were supposed to have cooler weather all this week. Perfect firing weather. I had it all planned. I was going to launch into a firing marathon. I"m talking full speed ahead. Bisque, glaze, bisque, glaze, can't you just hear the hum of progress. I'd be all caught up. Oh, what a thought that was. Everything was prepared and ready. I was feeling like Super Woman.

I was already dreaming of all the work I could show you here. You may not know it, but you all are great motivators to me. Just knowing you are there, reading my blog, encourages me. But then I hit a brick wall. The kiln wouldn't even turn on. Just when I was on a roll, when I had big plans. Isn't that just the way it goes though. Today I felt like this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Originally my plan was to have two kilns, one as a back up. Later I also reasoned it might be efficient to have one for bisque and one for glaze. My theory was, while one was cooling down, I could be firing the other one. My other thought was I could fire other people's work. Is this faulty reasoning, I'm not really sure. What if I had deadlines to meet or was teaching a class, what would I do. If my car breaks, I can rent one. There aren't any kilns around here to rent, or potter's who rent space. Well there is a place 1.5 hours away, but that isn't cost effective. I like to plan ahead, plan for contingencies. Somehow, though, I didn't get my backup kiln.

Well, tomorrow I am going to look at two used kilns. One is a Paragon 99 B and the other is a Duncan 1027 potter's kiln. I found out you can still get parts for Duncan kilns from Paragon. Perhaps I can barter for something, there is no way I can afford even a used kiln, let alone a new kiln. And of course I don't really need another kiln because I am sure it is something very simple I can easily fix on my Skutt kiln. But I am going to be creative. If you knew what I paid for my Skutt kiln, you would be amazed. I am bound and determined to move forward in clay no matter what. It can only get better from here, right?

My kiln is an ancient Skutt, strictly manual. If it won't turn on, it sounds like it isn't getting any power, I just have to find out why. So far I've checked the breaker, I've checked the sitter. Next I'm checking the electrical. It worked just fine the last time. Several suggestion have been made to me about changing the breaker, looking for spiders, checking conductivity. I guess I was meant to learn about my kiln the hard way, troubleshooting at the very beginning. Wish me luck, heck I don't need any of that, I'm Superwoman. Comments and advice are greatly appreciated.


  1. Welcome- you were planning weren’t you? The kiln gremlins work 24/7 making sure to drop by when you least expect them. This is just a wrench in the gears.
    I am sure you will have it up and running soon.
    Spiders- could be. We have to watch out for mud daubers, mice and other creatures who like to either store their winter goods in the burners and just move in the kiln when we are not looking.
    I know a potter who keeps his electric shut at all times to keep things out.
    Best of luck for working things out.
    A second kiln, not a bad idea.

    Love the lavender- but I expected a rainbow!

  2. Hi Meredith, I kept the breaker off till I used it. Didn't seem to matter. Thanks so much. I expected a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We once had a double rainbow here, perhaps I neglected to look for the gold then. Ha!

  3. Call Skutt, they are always most helpful when we call with studio kiln problems. I have the opposite problem from you, I was going to fire tomorrow (I'm all manual too and have to babysit) had it all planned and it's supposed to be 98 degrees. yuck! I'll probably wait until Thursday when it is going to cool down to 90. Good luck.

  4. Sending some kiln healing thoughts your way. Another thing to consider is maybe the elements need replacing, or the relay may not be working.

    Hope it gets fixed soon.

  5. Good luck with your kiln woes, Linda! I do think that, while inconvenient, the best way to learn how to fix something is to do just do it. Do you have the manual? And, call Skutt - I've heard that they do have terrific support which is one reason I chose a Skutt when I bought a new one.

  6. Hi Tracey, thanks, this is most unusual for us and the weather, hope your's cools down. thanks I will do a bit more checking and then I will call Skutt. I had actually called them when I first got the kiln and they were very helpful and friendly.

    Hi Yolanda, thanks for some reason I don't think it is the elements because of how fast it fired before. I had read that a slow fire would mean the elements were going out, but what do I know. An electrician friend is coming over this afternoon with his checking equipment.

    Hi Cynthia, thanks, yes I have the manual and I went through their trouble shooting section. Curiously the guy who is selling the other used kilns emailed me the pdf manual for the Duncan and it has a ton more information in it about firing kilns and trouble shooting - which I am going to print out. Maybe this was meant to be because that Duncan manual is 64 pages long and the Skutt is 26.

    As you say, the more I know the better I'll be. I am just frustrated because the weather was so perfect right now, and I have a show on Saturday and wanted to have more pieces to sell. The weather is supposed to be cool all week. Hopefully I'll get it fixed quickly.

  7. sometimes those damn kilns can be the bane of our existence... good luck troubleshooting

  8. gosh, you are so creative.... really! good luck. such determination you have too. :)

  9. Hi Jim, yes, thanks, they are a bane (a pain), but as I've been reading they aren't that complicated. At least mine isn't - all manual, a few wires and a few mechanical parts. We shall see.

    Hi Amy, thanks so much. I guess I am getting to that time in my life when I don't have any time to waste, I want to do it all now and move full speed ahead.


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