My dad and I recently finished the walls in a corner of my studio using cement board and slate.  I've been saving discarded chalkboards for years...This provides me with a nice area for high temp work such as firing a kiln or, someday, welding.  
    So I finally got to fire this awesome vintage kiln (1950's?).  1st test firing released the lovely odor of mouse droppings.  When this kiln was in storage at the Black Lantern studios, it became a mouse apartment complex...After a thorough cleaning now its all been incinerated.  I wish it was warm enough to leave my windows open...

This is kiln predates automatic digital readouts and even gravity-based kiln-sitters.  It does have the awesome dial readout connected to a "thermocouple" temperature probe.  That all means that I need to turn up the heat according to "best practices" and get a feel for the pace of firing.  I was never a super ceramic nerd so this will take some experience.  I've been looking up "ramping" schedules to get an idea of the speed recommended between temperatures.

I heard a frightening POP at around 1300 degrees.  I was sure a piece blew up, but when everything was fine.  It was surprising how little heat emanated from the kiln.  At temperatures approaching 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, the kiln seemed to be insulating well.  Looking in the peephole, I noticed one of the coils doesn't seem to be working.  I do have an extra set, so I should be able to fix that.

I think I love this kiln.  It's got the sturdy charm of a classic pickup, refreshingly low-tech, and just the right internal space to fire 1/4 scale terra cotta figures or life-sized busts.

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