Thursday, January 10, 2013

Relay Repair & Basket Weaving Workshop

My kiln is a Skutt 1218-3. Yesterday early in the morning it showed an E 1 error which means the temperature is increasing less than 12 degrees per hour during a ramp for more than 22 minutes. I stopped the kiln and let it cool down naturally. I also unplugged the kiln in case there was an electrical problem. Yesterday I unloaded the kiln and did a diagnostics by pressing the menu button on the kiln. The diagnostics told me the error occurred at 815 F, the volts of the kiln are 245/246 and on full load volts are 242, the amps for section one are 14, section 2 is 0, and section 3 is 14. I thought the amp at 0 might mean I needed an element.

After talking to the Skutt technician he said I needed a relay or the wires to that middle section or section 2 are burned or need to be replaced. See the red controller above; I have to remove the screws and open up the cover and look inside at the electrical parts. Yikes, but I think I can do it. Yes, I can do it. I will muster my confidence and go forth with courage. Stay tuned for more about the repairing.

Yesterday I was gone during the day and today I'm going to a basket weaving workshop with the Nature Coast Basket Weavers so I won't be able to tackle the kiln till Friday. I'm excited to have found a local Basketmakers group I can join. Basket weaving is the process of weaving unspun vegetable material into a basket or similar form. It's that process of using what occurs in nature in it's raw form which I'm drawn to. I'm hoping to incorporate some weaving with some of my pottery as well. Stay tuned for more about that.

When I unloaded the kiln I noticed a black dusty soot on some of the shelves and black spots on some of my pieces. I had used some copper carbonate on some leaf plates. I thinned the copper carbonate down this time but the leaves are still coming out black instead of the copper green I was hoping for.

If the soot is causing problems for my other work and that's what it's doing in my kiln I'm not sure I want to use it any longer. I hope all the work I had in the kiln isn't ruined with black soot or spots. We shall see. Keep in mind the kiln only got to 815 F so perhaps all that soot would normally be burnt out when I open the kiln after a bisque. There's never a dull moment and always something new to learn working with ceramics. Stay tuned for more about the kiln repair coming up soon. Thanks for reading and for all your help and comments.


  1. I hope you can get your kiln repaired.
    I would love to find a basket weaving class here- I want to make some handles for pots and I know that would help me figure out what I want.

  2. Hi Meredith, thanks, I hope I can repair the kiln soon too. I have a bunch of stuff to fire.

    My original reason for wanting to take a basket weaving class was to make some handles and incorporate some weaving on the tops of pots, but after weaving with clay and seeing a basket weaver's baskets at a show recently I would also like to weave baskets with natural materials. I read kudzu can be used and there's plenty available so the cost would be in the collecting. I'll post as I go, wish we lived closer we could take the class together. I checked several books out of the library about weaving and you might be able to teach yourself.

  3. Hi Linda. I guess if you can be brave enough to replace the relays I ought to be able to replace elements. My kiln is a small and very old all manual Fireman kiln I picked up used and have fired since summer of 2011 for bisque and ^6 glazes. Now some of the elements are drooping, and I have had the new elements in house since last'd think I thought replacing them was rocket science. How does that old saying go? Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. LOL I'm sure your project and mine will be accomplished well and in short order.

  4. Hello Linda:
    Alas we know nothing about kilns or anything electrical but we do hope that all your problems will be solved speedily and cheaply!

    The basket weaving sounds most interesting and we can well see its appeal for you. How exciting to introduce some of the weaving techniques into your ceramics work. We shall look forward to the results!

  5. I'd wondered how hot the kiln got. Wow! Hope you can get it repaired soonest. I made a basket once, then retired, LOL. But with your talent, girl, the world's your oyster. Your idea of working weaves into your pottery is great. Love your creativity.

    Thanks for your comment. I've removed the anon option and will shortly enable the four post moderation. So far, tho, so good, thankfully. I totally understood about burying one's head in the sand. Sometimes my eyes pop at all the stuff going on. I don't remember signing up for this roller coaster ride, LOL! Happy New Year, Linda. Hope it's a good one.

  6. Oops, forgot. Gary's right. There is something addictive in fast foods. Sixty Minutes did a segment on it. Instead of remembering a good meal for what it was and moving on, the additive makes one crave returning for more.

  7. Linda, I'm so glad you have a "can do" attitude about working on your kiln. I'm sure sending you all the encouragement an illiterate but sincere person can do. And if you can do new baskets, you can do anything! Can't wait till you merge the media...organics and clay sound like they have always belonged together.

  8. What a shame, I do hope the work isn't ruined and that the kiln is repaired soon.

  9. Relay is just open the box pull the old out plug the new in. Wires are a little more work but nothing you can't do if you take your time.Good Luck.

  10. Ditto Dennis' comments. With the relay just change 1 wire at a time from old rely to new. I couldn't be easier. You can do it.

  11. Good luck with the kiln repair - it must have been soooooo frustrating. Will you have to fire those pieces again?
    The basket-weaving sounds fascinating and I am looking forward to seeing how you incorporate it into your ceramic artistry.

  12. I hope the new relay will take care of the problem.

  13. Is there any chance the soot could be the result of the electrical fault..something shorting and sending showers of metal sparks into the kiln?. I'm just thinking that it's unlikely for glaze ingredients to move around at such a low temperature. Good luck with the repairs anyway!

  14. Hi Christine, thanks, well the clay community has been extremely helpful to me here and on facebook so they have encouraged me along, that and seeing other newbies working on their kiln I figure if they can do it I should be able to as well.

    Hi Jane and Lance, thanks, yes I am looking forward to the basket making and thinking that I do that while traveling as well, much easier than bring along clay. Ha.

    Hi Kittie, thanks, that wasn't even close to how high the temp gets, try 2185 or even higher.

    Hi Kittie, thanks, the world is my oyster, hope I find a pearl. Ha. yeah the food has an addictive quality much like cigarettes I think, darn those manufacturers.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, my can do attitude stems from all the other potters with their confidence I tell myself if they can do it so should I. Ha.

    Hi Carole, thanks, I do hope it isn't ruined too, we shall see after repair and re-firing.

    Hi Dennis, thanks, you make it sound so easy, thanks.

    Hi Lori, thanks, good point, one wire at a time.

    Hi Elephant's Child, thanks, yes I'll have to re-fire them as they weren't any where near temp.

    Hi Powen, thanks, I hope that's all that it is.

    Hi Mark, thanks, I am wondering the same thing about all that soot, good point about the temp not being high enough for the wares to get to temp, although the copper leaves turned the black color - they were green when I put them in the kiln.

  15. The basket weaving sounds like a nice break for you. Hopefully when you return you will have a great basket for your home and your kiln will be up and running. Have a creative weekend. Dee

  16. Hi Dee, thanks, well I hope I can get the kiln working soon.


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