Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Front Loading Kilns ?

Please give me advice on front loading kilns. I told Gary about an L&L Hercules front loader and he just about had a fit when I told him the price, which is only the price of a good used car and think of all the use it will get in it's lifetime. I want to get a front loading kiln since they're easier for me to load with a bad back.

Then Gary said what about a used one. I've never seen a used front loading kiln, even top loading kilns come up very infrequently. Maybe at that price I should forget about electric firing and go back to Cone 10 reduction, but then I'd need to get a propane tank. Maybe I can find a studio assistant to load my ancient Skutt? I just want to get all the pieces I made fired and make some more. I never did go to a place to get them fired because I thought I'd just get them fired when we move in to our new home. What to do?

For the past two months I guess we've really been snowbirds in Ocala, Florida. We're in an RV park which has 55 spaces in each row A through J, which is 540 RV spaces in just this one park.

It's kind of amazing thinking of the number of folks who go South for the winter or North for the summer in so many states, thinking of how they affect the economy of each state. So here's a toast from my latest mini goblet to all those part time residents in each state of America, no matter what month of the year it is. I won't tell you what Gary said about the stem of this goblet. I actually meant the stem to twirl around several times, but I couldn't manipulate it into that shape this time.

This is another one of my wrapped boxes. The lid fits down into the box. I made the lid by attaching a flat piece to the underside which slides inside the box. Then I made a similar attachment on the top of the lid to give it some height.

After I made the flat part of the lid I attached the handle on top of the lid. Next I wrapped the piece of clay all the way around the box which created the second part of the handle and then I cut through that piece of clay at the front and back of the lid so it would open.

The paper is to keep the lid from sticking till it dries. I have the whole piece taped up with electrical tape till it dries because I can't find my paper tape. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


  1. Have you tried eBay for the kiln? Seems you can get anything there and perhaps you could find one nearby so you could avoid shipping.

  2. Have you looked into the cost of having someone build one for you?
    You are right that you don't see these up for second hand sale much.
    But- it would last you a long time!

  3. Hi Patti, thanks, I hesitate to get a used one since you wouldn't know how well it worked and I am afraid the shipping would be prohibitative. There is a potter's forum I may check and you have reminded me, thanks.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, who do you think would build an electric one? I saw Shane Mickey builds a gas ir wood one, but Gary would really go off the deep end on the cost of one of those. HA. it would last a long time, more than my lifetime that's for sure.

  4. Linda, I don't know what those things cost but I bet they are nice to load. You could easily build a small gas kiln for probably less than half of what that kiln costs. The great thing about the electric kilns are the computer controls. I'm spoiled for sure by that.

  5. You could also consider outfitting an electric kiln with Advancer shelves. They are shockingly light and would make kiln loading much easier. They are expensive, but less than a new or fancier kiln. Plus, they reduce the mass in the kiln so they would take significantly less energy to fire.

  6. Linda, we are going next to an electric oblong shape and lower so we can load easier and we are also adding our old gas setup with propane for reduction. You will want both Linda, since you are a student at heart and love the exploration. There are lots of kilns used at pottery supply places. We are trading in 2 for 1. Good luck. Lana is using a front loader now but it is very large and needs big loads.

  7. Hi Linda
    Sorry I don't about front loading kilns. But your box form has great experimentation. I am amazed that you get so much work done with all your traveling. Very cool.

  8. Hi Linda,

    I have the L&L digital e23S kiln which isn't front loading but not very deep (18" high) and easy on the back because it comes with a stand and you don't bend over too much while loading. I got a very good price on mine through a pottery store rather than direct. Let me know if you need more info. I like Gary's humorous comment about your charming goblet. It reminds me of a George Ohr mug (same theme)I saw on exhibit recently.

  9. Linda you aren't very far from Bennett's Pottery -- they have the best prices on everything. They deal in volume because they supply a lot of schools. They carry a lot of different brands of kilns -- here's their web info:

  10. A front loader is a great idea. My top loading 5 cubic foot electric kiln is giving me some back problems at the moment, and my back is fairly good most of the time, so do go for that front loader if you can! You can tell Gary, good electric kilns last forever (my second hand one is probably 20 or 30 years old!), so they don't cost much per year when averaged out!

  11. Hi Ron, thanks, I've been thinking about the ease of the controller too. I didn't think I'd like mid fire but I like drawing on the clay and the mid fire seems easier to do that with. For the gas I plan on checking out the local college here and perhaps I can take a class or two and get some stuff fired there.

    Hi Emily, thanks so much, I had read about the advancer shelves but forgot about them and since I'll need to get new shelves I might as well get the light ones, a little money spent up front will save on the back end for sure, especially since Gary has a bad rotator cuff and he says he'll help me load, but he forgets about that.

    Hi Joan, thanks, you are so right about me, I want it all, I'll just have to figure out a way to get it. Aardvark Clay in LA had one of those oblong kilns and I could see they would be easier to load than the round ones. My small round one I am always having to be extra careful not to hit the sides with the work and the shelves. I didn't think of trading in, I'll check it out. We'll be in the house next week and then I plan to get it all sorted out then.

    Hi Connie, thanks so much, I could probably get a lot more done if I didn't have to drive one hour each way from here every few days for home inspections, etc. but next week that should change. It may take me a couple of trips to carefull transport all the greenware in my car. HA.

    Hi Sue, thanks, I'll check the L&L website to see what that one looks like.

    Hi Judy, thanks, I remember you mentioned several pottery places before and once we get in the house next week I plan on taking a trip there. I had hurt my back right after you mentioned it last time and I didn't dare drive over there, but now I am feeling better. I really can't wait to get over there and see the clays and all their supplies and talk with them. Thanks so much.

    Hi Peter, thanks, yes I am telling Gary that, now if it was an antique car or a tractor he wouldn't mind spending the money, oh that's the way - I'll promise him an old car if I can get my kiln. Ha. My old kiln is probably 20 years old, it's a skutt and it works just fine, they really do last a long time and are well worth the money.

  12. You're onto something with your lidded boxes Linda! I think your back may thank you with a front loader but it's also about what type of work do you see yourself doing more of in the future. My current top loaders kill my lower back. I was originally thinking a front loader would be the ticket so I don't have to bend over but I'm leaning now toward a large oval top opening to better fire my larger flat works.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment