How to build a pottery kiln

Pottery making is one of the most ancient forms of art. The variety of structures that pottery making enables artists to employ in their art is what draws everyone to this soothing activity.

On top of that, pottery is a useful product. It is one of those classic forms of art which will never go out of style. Most amateur and professional pottery makers report falling in love with pottery making at first sight, or would it be better to say the first touch?

The beauty of pottery-making is in the artist’s simple steps for results. Even though these steps are uniform and so calming, they might feel a bit confusing to a beginner. Pottery wheels, types of clay, so many techniques, and now even a pottery kiln!

As a beginner, there is nothing to worry about. All these doubts go away with a few initial days of practice, just the way they have come.

What is a pottery kiln?

You might be wondering this very question – why do I even need a pottery kiln? What does it do?

To the average learner, a pottery kiln is a big investment. However, it might seem like achieving your desired results is becoming impossible without this one device. At the same time, using a pottery kiln is also remarkably more complex than the other steps you might have encountered now.

Trending: types of kilns for pottery passion discussed here

Pottery kilns are insulated chambers that can generate an atmosphere of very high temperatures. Most traditional clay does not solidify on its own. Throughout history, pottery kilns have been used to dry clay after the pottery was created.

Earlier, potters would use large structures fuelled by coal or wood in which the pottery would be baked. These days electric kilns are available.

Around the world, the usage of the pottery kiln varies, and so does the type of the kiln itself. It can be argued that the technique and type of pottery kiln used produces the great ethnic varieties of pottery that we see around us.

However, these devices are definitely quite expensive. The good news is pottery kilns can be fashioned at home for beginner to professional uses safely without any issues.

building a pottery kiln outside house compound

Why should you use a pottery kiln?

We have discussed how imperative the step of baking pottery in a pottery kiln is to give it a firm structure. There are a few other advantages of using a modern pottery kiln.

Speeds up the baking process

The usage of a pottery kiln definitely speeds up the baking process. This is why this simple and time-tested method is chosen over most alternatives. The invention of electric and gas pottery kilns has further reduced the baking time by one-third of what was original.

Quite safe and standard to use

Pottery kilns are quite safe and standard to use once you master the procedure and the precautions. These steps though seemingly confusing and lengthy in the beginning, are very simple in reality and can be habituated to within a few days.

Does not need to be monitored

The modern pottery kilns do not need to be monitored while your pottery is baked. In our everyday busy lifestyles, this is such a saver. However, these same devices can be modified into low fire kilns, simultaneously enabling you to work on complicated designs and structures.

Multiple pieces of pottery can be baked together

Many modern pottery kilns allow you to bake multiple pieces simultaneously. If you work as a professional potter or aim to do so, you might need to keep up with the increasing number of orders sooner or later.

Devices that allow you to multitask speedily are essential to keep up with such market demands. By using the right baking and decoration procedures, you can reduce the time it takes to create each piece without harming its quality.

There are many pottery kiln firing arts

Traditionally, many pottery kiln baking arts and techniques have appeared and stayed. One such beautiful firing art is Japan’s low-fire Raku pottery firing technique.

Such beautiful baking and firing arts used for pottery making allow creators to experiment and explore the craft they love.

Different pottery designs can be realized

In connection with the points we just discussed above, it can be said safely that using a pottery kiln will save you from so much effort and limitations on your journey towards beautiful pottery making.

These devices play an important part in exploring underrated and forgotten pottery-making techniques and designs that are now being brought back to popularity.

How can I build a pottery kiln?

Even though using them is imperative in good pottery creation, these devices can be extremely expensive for the average potter. It is a common idea to DIY your own device.

One thing to note about making your own pottery kiln is that even though this can easily be done and is even advisable, testing this device’s safety is important to ensure your pottery kiln does not explode midway and cause a massacre.

These devices not only need to be created with great care, but they also require you to maintain them and use them carefully every time regularly.

wood fired ceramic pottery kiln cross section diagram
wood fired ceramic pottery kiln cross section diagram

The materials you require

The latest talk about the electric kiln, this device’s most widely used variation. Mainly for this, you will need everything for a circuit, the main base and heating element, bolts and nuts to fit it all together, soft fire bricks for insulation, angel iron, ICS controller, hand router, Kaowool, tin snips, and other small to big helping tools.

Understanding the purpose of every material and how you can use them is a lot more important while making these devices than it is following any list step by step. You will find a wide range of different methods by which you can make a pottery kiln across the internet. Make sure to read through them all and do your research before you start the process.

First, start with the structure

The structure of this device mainly refers to the channels and the bricks. These channels are where you will put the heating element for your device. Using a hand router is better than a drill for this step. Two of your bricks will have identical groves, and one will have two horizontal groves.

These groups are essential to fit your heating element, so if your heating element is of a different shape, your groves will follow that.

Adding the heating element

You can use a coiled element to heat your pottery during baking. Remember to secure your heating element properly by drilling two holes in the back of the groves. Properly securing your heating element is important because it will show movement when you run electricity through it.

Use many pins for this step.

Making the frame

Remember, insulation is so important while making a pottery kiln. Making the frame is where the insulation part comes in. For this, you would want to make a frame of metal, preferably steel. The design of the frame can be and should be very simple. You will have to add two more bricks on the top.

Your frame should suit your purpose as to how big your device is supposed to be and how much pottery you hope to insert into it simultaneously. It should also fit well around your heating element. It should be secure and insulated.

pottery-making-kiln

Making the door

The kiln’s door is the last step to a secure and safe device. You can use aluminum sheets for this purpose. Your door should at least be one inch thick in the center. Insulation is something that cannot be forgotten yet. Make sure your door fits nicely into the opening at the front of your kiln.

You can attach the door using a simple hinge. You need to cut the Kaowool fiber in a shape that matches the door and wrap it around it. If you are a sucker for details, you cannot afford to forget the handle.

Completing the circuit

Your coiled heating element must be attached to a safe and secure circuit. Make sure to use proper wiring, a working switch, and resistors if required. Use a power cord that serves your needs. Make sure the connection fits securely around your device; you can use a nut and bolt for this.

Now plug the device into the ICS controller and the controller into the socket. You switch on the power input after you are absolutely certain that your circuit is safe and insulated.

At this stage, do not forget to give your pottery kiln some test runs in a controlled atmosphere and make all the necessary changes. It might be that your device needs a different setting than the one you started out with. If your device needs these changes, allow it to cool before you lay your hands on it.

A few things to remember while making your pottery kiln

A few tips and tricks from professional pottery makers can push you to go one step further when it comes to the perfection of your pottery kiln. This is what we are going to discuss now.

What kind of pottery are you working on?

As explored in this article, different pottery has different baking needs. The success of a kiln depends on several factors, such as: are you using ceramic clay? Are you using stone clay? Do you need a long baking period for your pottery? Do you need multiple baking sessions for your pottery? And so on. find out how to store your pottery clay safely to reuse it in future to save money.

Some pottery makers use the additional step of baking their pottery once after applying decorations to it. Know your needs before you go on to make a kiln.

Portable or non-portable

These devices are typically not portable. If you are planning on using a baking step for your pottery out of doors, you might safely think instead of looking for a kiln for rent nearby.

However, some portable devices that operate on low heat and only accommodate very small pieces can be created. Remember that a portable device will never give the results of a time-tested traditional kiln.

When to install a professional kiln?

Are you thinking about going for a professional kiln installation instead? The installation of this device as a part of a home project is indeed possible and even easy to do. There are few simple steps, and repairing is quite possible. However, it is always better to call for professional help in certain situations.

  • Get a professional device installed if you are short on time. Making and setting up your own device will take a lot of time and energy on your part.
  • If you have very strict installation needs and will be working with very high temperatures, get your device made by a professional.
  • If you intend on using complicated routines for your pottery or want a very large setup for more than 50 pottery pieces at once, DIYing your kiln might be a silly idea. You should get a professional team to install your device in that case.

pottery kiln for drying kitchenware items

Conclusion

Pottery making is an art that is always sustainable. It brings the creator in closer contact with nature as well as the depth of their own minds. Pottery-making is a lifelong journey of developing and bettering your skills while trying out newer and newer techniques.

So. if you also want to be a part of this beautiful journey, wait no more.

FAQs

How large should my pottery kiln be?

Pottery kilns can be made of many different sizes. How large your pottery kiln should depend on how much pottery you are expecting to bake at once, what temperature range you are working on and how much space you have at your workshop.

What are the electricity requirements of a pottery kiln?

The pottery kiln has very complicated electricity requirements. It depends heavily on the size, temperature range, and materials used for its construction.

Is a pottery kiln important?

Pottery kilns are important for the glaze and durability of your pottery products. They are also used for baking painted and decorated pottery items.

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