31 August 2020

Kiln Frog Kiln Academy - WOW! That's a lot of information!



 Have you visited the Kiln Frog Kiln Academy?  If you haven’t, you probably have no idea how much information is on our website.  Just about anything you could ever want to know about kilns and how they work is contained in these pages.  Let’s take a quick overview to help you get some ideas on where you might want to start exploring.

Ask Arnold – Arnold Howard is our kiln guru.  He knows so much about kilns, and he has graciously committed to answering your questions about kilns and how they work.  Arnold was a long-time employee at Paragon Kilns, so he really knows his stuff!  If you have a question about kilns, Arnold is the guy to go to.  Just fill out the form and send it off.  Arnold will get back to you with an answer!


Choosing the Right Kiln – This page has a huge amount of information to help you pick out the perfect kiln to suit your needs.  There are six sections on this page and each section has many links to help you out. 


The All About Kilns section will take you through the steps of deciding the size, shape, and type of kiln that you need in addition to providing you with information on the different types of controllers, how to unpack and where to place your kiln, and even a list of kilns that operate on 120v household current.

Plugs and Electricity explains the difference between 120 volt and 240 volt current, gives you diagrams on the various types of plugs used, and even gives you a way to estimate your energy costs with your new kiln. 

 

There are also sections on Firing SchedulesShipping and DeliveryKiln Maintenance, and Kiln FAQs.  All in all, there are 32 pages full of information to help you get going in the right direction when choosing your kiln.


Preparing for Firing – In this section of the Kiln Academy, you will learn about how to prepare your new kiln for your first firing.  You will also find tips on kiln safety and on how to make test tiles to help you learn about your kiln. 

Glass Methods and Ideas – Did we mention there is a lot of information on these pages?  Glass Methods and Ideas will give you countless hours of inspiration for new projects and tips on how to best use your new kiln.  Straight from the experts at Bullseye Glass, here you will find sections on Tech Notes, Tip Sheets, Projects to experiment with, great Studio Tips, and a huge section of Quick Tips with information ranging from how to use glass powders effectively in your designs, to how to make frit balls, to how to use reactive glass for super cool effects. 

Bullseye Glass Videos – Once again, from the great people at Bullseye Glass, here you will find links to lots of free videos from Bullseye on various subjects like how to cut glass, how to use glass stringers in your designs, how to prep your kiln shelves for firing, and how to cold work your glass without the use of expensive equipment.  In addition to the free videos, there is a link to Bullseye’s great collection of videos that are available for a very low annual fee that covers many topics of interest. 



Knife Maker’s Kiln Guide – For all of the knife makers out there, we have a special section in the Kiln Academy just for you.  Here you will find all of the right questions to ask to help you choose the right kiln, and also a great description of all of the knife kilns available from our four kiln manufacturers.  Each series in each line is described in a very concise way in order to help you understand each kiln’s strengths.  There is even a great video of Alec Steele visiting the Paragon Kiln factory.

Heat Treating 101 – For those of you who are a bit new to knife making, here you will find a great description of each of the different phases of heat treating in addition to links to heat treating formulas for various kinds of steel. 

Kiln Repair Directory – Here we have provided you with an extensive list of kiln repair resources from across the country.  If you ever find yourself in need of a kiln repair resource, check here.  The listings are organized alphabetically by state so it is easy to search to find someone near you.

Glossary – If you stumble across a word that you aren’t sure about, check here.  We have given you a very comprehensive list of terms and their definitions to help you figure it out, and it is downloadable!

So, there you have it; anything and everything you ever wanted to know about kilns and where to find it.  Check out the Kiln Academy today.  There is always something new to learn!

08 June 2020

Vertical Air Baths

New Ideas in Heat-Treating Blades!

This is a story about what happens when a kiln manufacturer is presented with a challenge and thinks outside the box to find a different solution.  All of our manufacturers go to great lengths to provide our customers with the best designs possible to get the job done, whether it be in glass, ceramics, heat treating, or even industrial heat work.  This blog is about how one of our manufacturers came up with a new solution through experimentation, innovation, and perseverance to create a different approach to heat treating blades.  Even if you aren't a bladesmith, you might find this creative process an interesting read to get a better idea of how innovative our manufacturers really are.  

So, what is a Vertical Air Bath, and how did it come about?  To find out the answers to these questions we went right to the source, Mike Glotfelty at Jen-Ken-Kilns.

When Mike had a request from a customer to make a heat-treating oven for blades, he started thinking about all of the designs of heat-treating ovens and wanted to come up with something different and more efficient.  Heat-treating ovens for blades are typically long horizontal chambers with elements on the sides and sometime the back of the kiln.    Mike thought long and hard about the best and most effective heating for blades, knowing that it came from salt and sand bath kilns.  If you’re not familiar with those, they feature a superheated environment that the blades can be submerged into.  Mike thought this concept could be applied to a more traditional top-loading kiln design for heat treating as well, so he and his brother Randy got to work designing something completely new based on the chassis of a proven company winner. Smart car companies do this all the time!

The brothers improved on a solid workhorse in the fleet they had previously designed for ceramics and came up with an all-new design for heat-treating blades that has a tall heating chamber where the blades can hang vertically inside, surrounded by heat from 360º; no obstructions of floors or props, just pure heat coming from everywhere and heating all of the metal to the same temperature at the same time.  Mike felt that this design would reduce the possibility of blade warpage that is sometimes caused by uneven heating of the blade during the heat-treating process. 

Once they had the design concept mapped out, they needed to try it out.  Ideas are great, but unless they work flawlessly, they are just great ideas.  Their first test was the customer in Mississippi who had asked Mike to build him a heat-treating kiln in the first place.  Here is what he got; a tall, vertical heated air chamber with a baffle at the top to keep the heated air trapped in the kiln when the lid was opened.  The brothers designed a slot in the baffle large enough to hang the blades through, along with a system of long pegs to slip through the holes in the tang of the blade that would span across the slot in the baffle and allow the blades to be suspended beneath the baffle.





After several firings with perfectly straight blades, Mike had some ideas on how to make this design even better.  It seemed that opening up the baffle was going to allow the blades to absorb the heat more fully and allow the blades to glow evenly from tip to tang!  Mike and Randy did some tweaking and built another vertical oven for another customer, Kyle in Jacksonville, FL with a larger opening in the baffle to accommodate more blades.  With Kyle’s input and after several more firings with perfect blades, they felt like they had the design concept finalized and were ready for the next step.

Here is where the story gets really interesting.  Mike decided he wanted to take a class to learn how to make blades for himself so that he could better understand the process and better relate to his customer’s needs.  He signed up for a class at Doghouse Forge with Jonathan Porter and brought one of his new vertical ovens with him to the class.  After much skepticism, the participants in the class all decided to try the new oven for their heat-treating processes during the class.  Mike had talked up the advantages of the new design and finally convinced everyone it was worth a shot.  The only problem was that as he sat in the class and learned more about the process of making a blade, he realized that the method of hanging the blades in the kiln was great if there was a hole already drilled in the tang.  But what about the freshly forged blades that hadn’t been normalized yet?  There was no way to get a hole drilled into the dense metal of the tang at this point in the process, so there wasn’t any way to hang the blades the way he and Randy had designed, with a peg slipped through a hole in the tang to suspend the blade. 


As he sat in the class, he remembered that he had a heavy-duty kiln element in his car.  A coil of tightly wound stiff wire, hmm…  What if he cut that coil into segments that were as long as the pegs and just inserted the tang into the tight coil?  The tension would hold the blade in the coil and the coil could be placed across the slots in the baffle just like the pegs to suspend the freshly forged blade.    It was a brilliant idea, and it worked!  Everyone in the class used the new vertical heat-treating oven, and there were no warped blades.  By the time the class was over Jonathan had told Mike that he was leaving the vertical oven right where it was!  It was now part of the Doghouse Forge studio. 


So, what are the advantages of this innovative design? 

· Even, 360º heat distribution, the blade is heated evenly from top to bottom.
· Easily accommodates multiple size blades at the same time.
· Large capacity can hold 12+blades in a single firing.
· No warpage because the blades are held vertically throughout the heating and quenching process.
· The vertical design along with the included castors saves valuable space in your work environment and is easily moved out of the way when not in use.
· A power interrupt lid switch prevents accidental electrocution when the lid is raised.
· Reversible, side-mounted lid handle design allows for easy access to the blades without exposing the user to extreme blasts of heat as the lid is raised.
· Extra elements above the baffle allow for quick return to temp after the lid has been raised and lowered.
· Configurable baffle design allows for multiple blade shapes and sizes to be accommodated in the same firing.

So, there you have it.  A new and innovative design, born of the desire to fulfill the needs of customers from a company that prides itself in doing things the right way, just with a twist. 

There are now five different Vertical Air Bath models to choose from, each with their own unique attributes, and all are competitively priced.

The Virtual Air Bath EDC has a 6” wide and 11” deep chamber.  This is the smallest VAB, but still a great size for those small to medium sized blades.  It is equipped with the 3-key digital Orton Controller.

Jen-Ken Kiln - Vertical Air Bath EDC


The Vertical Air Bath 16 has an 11” wide and 16” deep chamber and will accommodate larger blades.  It comes with the 3-key digital Orton Controller.

Jen-Ken Kiln - Vertical Air Bath 16


The Vertical Air Bath 21 has an 11” wide and 21” deep chamber and comes with the 3-key digital Orton Controller.

Jen-Ken Kiln - Vertical Air Bath 21

The Vertical Air Bath 30 has an 11” wide and 30” deep chamber and is equipped with the 3-key digital Orton Controller.

Jen-Ken Kiln - Vertical Air Bath 30

The Vertical Air Bath Excalibur is the largest of the VABs.  It is 11” wide and a massive 50” deep.  This is a custom VAB 21 with an added chamber.  It can be used in either the 21” or 50” configuration.  Because of the height of this heat-treating oven, special consideration needs to be taken when setting up the work environment.  In the 50” configuration, you will need a platform to work from, a tall quench tank to accommodate the long blades, and taller ceiling height to give yourself ample room to draw out the long blades.  It comes with an AFG 12-key controller standard.

Jen-Ken Kiln - Vertical Air Bath Excalibur

All of the Vertical Air Baths are available for Quiet Drive Solid State Relay upgrades as well as controller upgrades.  Visit us at KilnFrog.com to explore all of the possibilities that these great heat-treating ovens have to offer. 

Also, check out these great videos of the Vertical Air Baths in action.




30 April 2020

New Paragon Kilns

The Dragons Are Here!

Here at Kiln Frog, we are always excited to add new items to our site and chat about kilns that can change how you work! Gail recently added the entire Dragon line from Paragon Kilns.  As you might surmise from the name, these kilns are incredible BEASTS!  Whether you work in glass, clay, or metal, or if you have ever dreamed of having the ultimate front-loading kiln, heat treating oven, or industrial furnace at your disposal, waste no time and take a look at these amazing feats of engineering.

There are three Dragons to choose from in the product line, and they come in any color you choose.  Each model has its own personality and strengths as one might suspect, so let’s dive right in and go exploring in this wonderful world of heat.

The Dragon 24 – This is the production potter’s dream kiln. 
  • It’s front loading with plenty of space to accommodate the largest of projects and is capable of firing to cone 10 all day long.  Being a front loader is also a great benefit when you have large projects to fit in for a bisque firing.  No worries about knocking your 24” greenware urn on the side walls as you try to lower the piece into place from above.  Just swing the door open and slide it right in.  That door by the way is mounted on an impressive ¾” steel rod with sealed bearings and it opens a full 160º to give you ample access to the interior of the kiln.  The door is held securely closed by two spring loaded latches during firing.
  • The Dragon 24 has an interior dimension of 24” by 24” by 27” in height.  That’s 9 cubic feet of interior space, and from a production standpoint, that’s a lot of space!  You could have multiple levels of mugs, plates, or tiles in this kiln all firing at once. 
  • And how about those walls?  They are constructed of 3” firebrick with an additional 1” outer layer of ceramic fiber to retain heat.  That’s four inches of insulating material, all encased in a sturdy metal case that can be painted in your choice of one of eight colors. 
  • The kiln floor is a whopping 4 ½ inches of fire brick.  Why so thick, you might ask?  This kiln has been designed to retain as much heat as possible.  This give you, the operator several advantages.
  • It stays much cooler on the outside than a traditional kiln.  The case temperature at cone 10 is around 170º compared to 400-500º on more traditional designs.
  • Slower cooling means you aren’t using as much energy to keep the kiln at temperature during the firing phase.  The elements don’t have to work as hard and therefore last longer, and you are using less electricity to maintain your temps. 
  • Slower cooling allows you to branch out and explore the fascinating world of slow cooled glazes.  If you have ever seen a glaze with micro or macro crystalline structure in the glaze, you know how fascinating these glazes can be. 


Here is an example of a macro crystalline glaze that is fired to cone 10 and then held at 2000º for at least four hours to achieve this finish.  This Dragon 24 opens up new and exciting worlds to you in glaze structure by facilitating the slow cool process.

For those of you needing a heat-treating furnace with large capacity, you need look no further.  The Dragon 24 can handle heat-treating large metal parts or burning out diesel particulate filters with ease.   

The max temperature on these kilns is 2350º, and with the industrial-gauge elements, efficient design, and 16,500 watts of power, the Dragon 24 can keep that heat going firing after firing without breaking a sweat!  That’s some serious power with some serious wattage backing it up. 

The Dragon 24 can be configured a number of ways to suite your needs, and Gail put together ten different combinations of voltage, phases, and features for you to choose from on this kiln.  You can add door elements and even specify a gas inlet flow meter and solenoid for this kiln to broaden the range of firing techniques at your disposal.  Just imagine the number and the size of blades you could heat treat with this kiln!  The standard Type-K thermocouple is protected with a high nickel stainless steel sheath, and you can also specify a three-zone configuration with three thermocouples for even greater control of the heating environment.  The thermocouples are upgradeable to Type-S thermocouples if your needs dictate.  The industrial grade elements are even tuned to give you more heat at the bottom and top of the firing chamber where it is needed most. 

Now, you might be reading this and thinking to yourself that all of this is well and good, but I’m a glass artist, not a potter or metal worker!  Not to worry, we’ve got you covered! 

Enter the Janus Dragon.  Everything we just said about the Dragon 24 is true for the Janus Dragon, with the addition of elements in the roof of the kiln.  This kiln is drool worthy.
  • As with the Janus 24, you can also specify door elements for your kiln. 
  • The Janus Dragon features two different firing modes, glass and clay.  In the glass firing mode, heat comes from the top elements and the middle sidewall elements to create a perfect environment for casting, fusing, slumping, and dropping.  In the clay firing mode, heating comes from the sidewall elements only as in the Dragon 24.  
  • The Janus Dragon ups the wattage to 16,800 to accommodate the extra elements in the top of the kiln.  With this kiln, you can easily do multiple layers of slump molds to get your production into high gear. 
  • Another great feature of all of the Dragon models is a hinged control panel.  This allows for easy access to the controller and relays for any needed maintenance. 
  • And how about those relays?  Industrial mercury relays are standard on all Dragon kilns as are high amperage fuses to protect the circuit wiring.
  • All of the Dragons come standard with the Sentry 12-key controller, and you can upgrade to the Sentinel smart controller if you choose.  
So, you say this all sounds great, but I work REALLY BIG! 

Enter The Super Dragon.  Everything that’s great about the Dragon 24 is here on display but bigger, stronger, and more developed, just like after getting a trainer at the gym. 

The Super Dragon measures a massive 27” by 27” by 36” tall.  We are talking sabre and scimitar territory here.  Think about how many 12” plates you could slump at one time, or how many mugs you could fire and get ready to ship out.  This kiln has a massive 15.3 cubic feet of interior space to handle all of that and more.  It’s a production potter or glass artist’s best friend. 

Power, you ask?  It’s a whopping 21,600 watts. 

Gail has put together seven different configurations of this beast to suit any and all of your needs, be it single phase or three, with a Ventmaster or no, adding door elements, single or three zone, etc... You truly can have this whopper of a kiln your way!

Now let’s talk size for a minute.  If you want to get the Dragon 24 or the Janus Dragon through a door, you need a minimum of 34” clearance if you temporarily remove the handles and back element cover.  The Super Dragon is going to need a 42”  opening to squeeze through.  Did I mention this guy is massive?

If you like all of the features of the Dragon series, but just aren’t quite needing that much space, there is good news.  The Dragon’s little brother has many of the same features as the Dragons, just in a smaller package. 

  • The 18” by 18” by 22.25” tall chamber might be just the right size for you. 
  • At 4.20 cubic feet in volume it is a great size for those who want a front loader, but don’t need quite the capacity of the Dragons. 
  • You can get the Iguana with a Sentry 12-key controller or a Sentinel Smart Controller. 
  • It is built to exacting standards out of three inch firebrick on all walls, door, roof and floor for great insulation and slow cooling.  
  • It is rated at 10,800 watts and can be ordered with an Orton Ventmaster or with a gas inlet flow meter and solenoid if you need them. 
  • It also fires to 2350º. 
  • It is great for glass, clay and heat treating metals, too!

So, there you have it; a little glimpse into the world of really big kilns.  If you would like to make one of these great workhorses yours, just give us a call and we can guide you through the selection process to match you up with the one that suites your needs the best.  If you can’t find the configuration that’s just the right fit for you, call us and we’ll create just the right feature stack for you.  After all, who wouldn’t like to have a dragon in their back pocket? (ok, maybe their garage, studio, or factory floor!)



13 April 2020

Can My Work Be Better Now That I Have More Time?

Coldworking Options 
How To Bring A Professional Finish To Your Work


During this insecure time, we figured we would talk about something that made us feel secure as artists; workmanship and creativity. We’re really motivated to make stuff right now, but here at Kiln Frog we are all about the finish of our projects. A good finish will take your piece of glass, pottery or blade from “Oh yeah, that’s nice” to “Wow, that’s freaking amazing!” 

Just like a lot of you, we’ve had some of extra time on our hands to get some long overdue projects finished.  This past weekend Paul finished the lip of a gorgeous bowl on his new flat lap grinder.  It was a great bowl, but it just needed that professional finish to take it over the top. 

Here is the before and after.  That ugly, lumpy edge finally is gone!


This project got us thinking.  Whether it’s finishing the lip of a glass bowl, smoothing out the bottom of a thrown pot, or putting a razor-sharp edge with a mirror shine on a blade, grinding and polishing is something we all do.  Coldworking is what really finishes off a piece, but we often don’t have the time necessary to give our work that last little bit of polish. 

Well, now a lot of us do have that time.  Coldworking takes patience and practice, and it can’t be rushed, but the right tools really help to get the work done well. 

We know that sometimes what you really want and what you can really afford are two different things, so we thought we’d give you an idea of some different options that are out there to get a super finish on your work. 

If you want to do some coldworking, but just can’t spring for that 24” flat lap grinder right now, (it took Paul three years of saving everything he made at every art show he attended to finally get the cash together to buy his!) you can always get some silicon carbide in a few different grits, a sheet of 6mm or ¼ inch plate glass, and some water and you have your very own cold working station.  

Here is a kit we put together that has all of the grits you need to get your coldworking station set up with this method.  This kit is a steal, and it really works great!


And here is a link to a great video that shows the process for setting up and using a simple grit based cold working station from the super helpful folks at Bullseye Glass. 


If you have a little bit more to spend, you can get a versatile machine to do the work for you. Covington has two great models of wet belt sanders to get the job done. 

The #466 Mounted Wet Belt Sander has 6 inches of workspace and a 1/3 hp motor.  It is perfect for working on smaller pieces such as items for jewelry. It doesn’t really have the power for bigger plates and bowls, but it handles small work under 6” really well.



If you have larger projects to work on, the #761 Deluxe Commercial Wet Belt Sander has a more powerful ½ hp motor.  This extra power and torque will handle larger jobs.  The 761 also has a 13-inch high back plate allowing you to work vertically, and it can be ordered in either 120v or 240v configuration.  This is a great machine and has a lot of power to handle just about anything.


Covington Deluxe Wet Belt Sander #761


For bigger projects, Covington Engineering has Flat Lap Grinders starting at 12 inches of work surface and on up to 24 inches.  The 12-inch model is a great way to get introduced to the world of beveling and polishing.  It can be configured with a center water feed and a variable speed motor.

Gail recommends the Variable speed model, which is good for polishing the lips of bowls. Even through it comes at a higher cost, it’s worth the extra money. It allows you to work alone safely. Although you can polish with a single speed model, it is definitely more challenging to hold on to your project as you change the abrasive discs and they have finer grit, things get a little more slippery! This is when you need a studio buddy to help keep you safe and turn the machine on and off. You don’t want your piece flying across the room. Remember, safety first!




I Can't Wait Much Longer!



We have been getting a lot of calls in the last few weeks from people who are stuck at home, just like we are, and can’t get to their work studio, community center, or wherever it is where they normally create their art. A lot of them are deciding to finally get a kiln or other piece of equipment to use at their home.  The biggest dilemma is that it usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to get something built even during normal times and let’s face it, these just aren’t normal times!  Many people don’t realize that we have a great selection of kilns that are in our Ready-to-Ship Program that usually go out in 5-to-7 business days.  They are already built and at the factory waiting to go to a new home.  If you are at that point where you want to get something to use at the house, you can check them out here.  There is a nice variety of kilns here from small to large; for glass, pottery and heat treating. 


So, whether it’s a Flat Lap Grinder, a Wet Belt Sander, or just some silicon carbide grit and a sheet of plate glass that you need to get that professional edge to your work, or a kiln to call your very own we’ve got you covered.  

These times are difficult for everyone, and if you are like us, you get a lot of pleasure and maybe even a bit of calm from creating something with your own hands.  We thought it would be fun to help you show that off a little.  Send us a jpeg of something you have created with one of our products and we will post it up on our Facebook or Instagram.  Send your pic to our email address, kilnfrog@gmail.com Attn: Paul and we will get your creation a little extra love! We want to see you blades, your glass, you gorgeous clay creations! And if you’re one of our University, Lab or Industrial Shop customers, share your workplace love too! We’d love to see what you’re up to also! There’s a lot of creative energy going on out there in industry too!

As always, we are here for you.  Keep creating and keep yourselves and your loved ones safe.


**A note about our manufacturers: Most of our manufacturers are considered essential manufacturers, allowing them to remain open, still building and shipping. They are running smaller production crews, and are doing everything possible to ensure the safety and health of their employees. It is our goal to continue to support their businesses by continuing to market their products. They stay in business with our support, and your support. Some of our manufacturers have been forced to temporarily close. Please see our website for their status.**


08 April 2020

Ask Arnold: Arnold's Firebrick Repair Toolkit

Kiln Pointer from Paragon:
Arnold's Firebrick Repair Toolbox
Contents

A Firebrick Repair Toolbox

Book Recommendation: "Clay: A Studio Handbook"

Reader Response
Firebrick Repair Toolbox
A Firebrick Repair Toolbox
 
Ever since I left Paragon and became an independent kiln technician, hunting for tools has been my biggest waste of time. So I have sorted my kiln tools into four tool boxes (along with a vacuum cleaner and air compressor).

Recently I put all of my firebrick tools into one box where I can find them instantly. Here they are, going clockwise from left to right in the photo:
 
Plastic or Aluminum Foil Tray: It should be large enough to dip firebrick pieces into kiln cement. This is much faster than applying the cement with a putty knife. You have to work quickly, or the cement will begin to set before the repair parts are pressed together. The faster you work, the better the bond.
 
Kiln Wash: Apply to the firebrick kiln bottom and the Kiln Sitter cone supports. Kiln wash looks like kiln cement. IMPORTANT: Keep these powders separated and clearly marked.
 
Spray Bottle: Spray a little water onto firebrick parts that you are cementing together. This helps the cement to adhere to the firebricks. If you work fast, you won’t need the water at all.
 
Plastic Cups: If you don’t have these, you will constantly hunt for a container to mix the cement in. Clean and reuse indefinitely.
 
2” Paint Brush: Thin kiln cement to coffee cream consistency. Then brush onto surfaces that you want to harden, such as the top of sidewalls in a top-loading kiln. Immediately wipe off the cement with a rag.
 
Paragon Liquid Kiln Cement: I like the liquid cement, because it’s fast and convenient. This is the very same cement used in the Paragon factory.
 
Scrap Firebricks: Cut pieces to replace broken sections in a kiln.
 
Paragon Dry Kiln Cement: This is for when you run out of liquid kiln cement. You can also mix the powder to the exact consistency that you want.
 
Rag: For wiping off kiln coating and for general clean up. Repairing firebricks is messy.
 
Paint Mixing Stick: For mixing kiln cement and kiln wash. Stir kiln wash constantly as you use it.
 
DeWalt DWHT20542 Multi-saw: This comes with a coarse blade and a hacksaw blade. Use it to cut firebricks. I found this at Home Depot. You can find other brands, of course.
 
3M Sanding Block: Medium grit sandpaper works well in shaping firebricks.
 
3M Sponge Sanding Block: Sand the edges of firebrick lid grooves to remove loose debris. You can cut the sponge to the size you need.
 
Marinade Injector: I found the “Good Cook Flavor Injector” at Tom Thumb. Use it to inject kiln cement deep into the cracks in firebrick kiln walls and floor. I will cover this in detail another time.
 
HEPA Vacuum Cleaner and HEPA mask (not shown): Wear the mask when working around firebrick powder. Vacuum firebrick parts before cementing.

Book Recommendation: "Clay: A Studio Handbook"

Vince Pitelka, well-known for his teaching and his contributions to Clay Times, here tells you more than you ever thought you needed to know about pottery. He shares a lifetime of knowledge.

 
Reader Response
 
Last week I wrote that I left Paragon in August, 2019 to become an independent kiln technician in the Dallas - San Antonio, Texas area. The day after I left Paragon, I was replacing elements at a school in Fort Worth.
 
I also wrote that doing something creative helps one to forget the daily news. A few of the responses from readers--
 
“Many thanks, Arnold, for your Kiln Pointers and also your paragraph on facing world events,” wrote Ruth Canham of Nahiku Art Glass in Hawaii. “I don’t know how I would have made in through the last couple of weeks without having my kiln to keep me busy. First, I took on the challenge of trying strip construction with reactive glass. After that I went on to making whimsical birds. It’s kind of freeing in a weird way to have the galleries closed. Time to play.”
 
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“Thanks for sharing the electrical knowledge,” wrote Alexander Riedel. “Many are terrified of electricity when it can really be very simple if you know what to look for and how to do it safely.
 
“From my experience working on industrial foundry ovens,” Alexander continued, “it’s always something incredibly simple when it comes to electrical problems. It just takes a while to chase it down: a loose connection, limit switches slipping from loosening, fouled relay contacts, a wire or nut that loosened from expansion/contraction, overheated or broken elements. I also really enjoyed the quote about the studio being a place away from reality.”
 
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“The nose told the story,” wrote Fujie Robesky. “Great detective work. Good to hear you’re still working in what you obviously love.”
 
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“The Kiln Pointer email was a breath of fresh air!” wrote Andy Reeves.
 
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“No telling what changes we will see from all this," wrote Pattie Necaise about the virus. “I think there will be good changes. We just might value people more than things.”
 
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“It was good to hear from you, like hearing from an old friend, although we’ve never met. Thanks so much for the many pointers through the years,” wrote Colleen Gilligan Gilbert of Cypress, Texas.
 
“I work at a non-profit that serves adults with intellectual disabilities, and I help them earn a paycheck by making and selling fused glass,” she explained. “We have three big Paragon kilns--two Ovations and a Pearl-44. We got the first Ovation on my first day here over 10 years ago. We have used the heck out of these kilns, firing them every afternoon.
 
“Right now it’s very quiet here, as all our folks are staying away from our Learning Activity Center for their own health and safety. I continue to do paperwork, and look forward to the hustle and bustle of their return.”
 
The Rain in Mesquite
 
This morning before dawn, I sat in my sunroom listening to the rain. It drummed softly on the steel roof and splashed into a puddle outside. I felt like I was in the steel-roofed A-frame that I built in Leilani Estates near Pahoa, Hawaii. The rain fell in sheets there. The rain cleanses the world and sounds comforting.

 
Thank you,
Arnold Howard
Mobile 972-333-1437