Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kiln Shopping, Sticker Shock, and Size Matters

It's been kind of a sluggish week on the pottery front. Although I worked my keister off for most of the week, I got few pots made. It is my intention to make many pots this weekend, but we'll just see how that goes, great intentions and all.
For the past year I have been firing my pots at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design. My kiln is still in New Brunswick, and I have been sluggish about getting it here. The old girl is small, and she is old, I think about my age or more and probably not worth hauling all this way. Firing at the Centre seemed like a good plan at the time, but increasingly I find it very restrictive to my work, booking time and attempting to fire during office hours only, fitting my firings in between class firings. Transporting greenware without breakage is a huge pain in the rump, I lose a lot of my more complex pieces between Albert Bridge and Sydney let me tell ya,  travelling 20 minutes over country roads with greenware ain't all its cracked up to be!  it really affects what I make. Very few sculptural pieces or crazy teapots get made these days, and that makes me sad. The restrictive firing times is also a loss leader, my glazes like to cool slowly, and mellow, they are so much more beautiful, and consistant with a little time on their side. I lose a few pretties to a quickie firing all to often. Bottom line here is, I need to purchase a bigger, badder kiln that will share some all nighters with me, and heat things up at home. Enter the shopping trauma.
There are a butload of kilns on the market-and they sure aren't cheap! They come in all shapes and sizes, they have all kinds of bells and whistles and it is a scary prospect for me to throw thousands of dollars out there and then wish I had chosen differently. I have chosen the brand I would like, and tentatively the model. But here is where I start to panic. What if I buy the wrong size?  I have no gauge here. I have only ever done part time potting, this stepping up production and looking at wholesale and expanding to more galleries thing is quite the change for me. But if I go too big, will I ever fill it? I look at BeckyJo's new beast and think ooh baby! gotta get me one of those..... but then I get scared cause he's sooooo big.
I think I'm gonna have to bite the bullet, and just jump in to medium deep water. I have a tentative decision on this little number from Tucker's in Ontario. Unless y'all would like to share your expert opinions with me that is!


  1. on the other hand, its not the size of the kiln, its how you use it....

  2. Helios is a beast, and I did not go into the purchase lightly. It's kind of like buying the house you intend to live in for the rest of your life... think about it, weight the options, and then jump! I bought Helios because I have full intentions of being a full time potter and teaching some classes someday. A kiln is a huge purchase, but they last FOREVER and if the time comes that you need to sell it, I think they hold value pretty well. I mean, I looked long and hard for a used kiln and people just don't sell them very often, so I think used kilns are in high demand. Good luck on your kiln purchase, and remember that you will LOVE a new shiny kiln. Every once and a while I go down to the studio and say "I ♥ you, Helios." :)

  3. Hi Liz
    I will give you the same advice the glass artists pass out. Buy the largest kiln you can afford.
    And let's be honest once you get it and start producing, no matter how big it is you are going to wish it was still bigger.
    Good luck with the purchase and wise move.