Reduce Reuse Recycle

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Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:59 pm

This fall at the community college I teach at myself and the scupture teacher set out to convert an old Alpine updraft kiln into a wood fired soda kiln. The old kiln was a discard from another NC University and was gutted of all of the gas lines and burners. We had a little less than a palate of arch brick, a variety of metal, some hard casteable, and whatever else we could scround from around the campus. We discussed the possibilites of a fire box under it and continuing to fire updraft or to build a fire box on one side and a chimney on the other. With a bit of research and consultation with other potters (mainly Preston Tolbert) we chose option 2. We started by cutting out an large entrance hole into the kiln and supporting it with some horizontal and vertical fire bricks. Then with the small number of brick we had (and they are all arch bricks) we build a large firebox with a wall 4 1/2" thick.





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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:03 am

On the chimney side we cut a bit smaller of an exit flue (also a bit higher than the firebox entrance) and used up all the rest of the brick we had to get a chimeny not quite 2 feet tall Sad





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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:17 am

Thankfully a potter friend came by and saw our problem and donated a good stack of insulation brick. We had to get out a saw and cut all the soft brick flush but were able to add another 30" to the chimney. Then the sculpure teacher fabricated an extention and damper plate plan using some stainless steal sheets he acquired from the HVAC department to get our chimney up to about 9 feet total. (still pretty shy of the ideal for a down draft style kiln)

For the fire box we made up a mud mixture 10% portland cement 40% perlite from the horticulture department and I think 30% whatever dry clay we could find in the studio-- some Kaolin, some fire clay, some red art etc... We made the walls about 4" thick and even at 2400 degrees you can put your hand on the surface and not burn yourself.

Then for a roof on the fire box we made it out of hard casteable. (only 1" think though) We were running out of time and had to get the project fired off by the end of the semester. Above the casteable is 2 layers of insulation fiber which has held up pretty well so far. The door is its own artistic find...

Also we made 4 soda ports just above the fire box that we can unscrew during the firing and spay soda into the upper half of the kiln to get a better distribution of soda to the whole kiln.





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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:32 am

All in all the kiln has worked very well. We just finished the second firing and we hit cone 11 in about 16 hours. We are going to change to door to open to the side as the flames coming out can pretty well remove your arm hair and eyelashes if you are not carefull. As for the chimney we built the kiln to use the exit flue that they used to use for metal casting and as it heats up it seems to work as an extra 6 feet if draw, With heavy stokes the stainless steal glows red but cools off well before we stoke again. In some ways it is a guide as to when to add wood based on the color Smile




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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:37 am

Here a are a few bonsai pots that came out of this firing last weekend.




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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:43 am

Here is another bonsai pot from this past firing, and a platter.

It was a great project, I am looking forward to the next firing Smile




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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  pjkatich on Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:30 am

Outstanding conversion Robert!!

Thanks for taking the time to post this information. I found it very educational.

Really nice finishes on the bonsai pots. In particular, pots 09010 and 09013. These two pots are sweet.

Also, I can see that your platters are getting better. The textured rim frames the carved tree very well.

My compliments.

Paul


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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Tom Benda on Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:37 am

You made me go back to the days of building my own kiln :-), thanks.
I will not highlight any detail, but the whole post! I like it all, including pots.
Thanks for another inspiration, especially for the platter.

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Dale Cochoy on Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:09 pm

That looks like a lot of fun!
I love those platters!

Did you change teaching jobs?

D.

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  prestontolbert on Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:16 am

What was the final cost?

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:29 am

Paul,
Thanks for the comments it has been a great project. I am looking forward to firing it a good bit now Laughing
Glad you like the bonsai pots.

Tom,
Thanks for your reply, I love seeing your wood fired pots, they make me want to get in my studio more and more.

Dale,
I am glad you like the info, and I am really loving making these platters these days. I am still teaching High School as well, but I am teaching 2 nights a week at the community college for the assiciates of Fine arts program.

Preston,
I am not sure of a total cost but I would put it in the ballpark of $200 which includes 2 pyrometer sleeves. cheers

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  pjkatich on Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:31 pm

Robert,

What intrigued me most about your conversion is that this looks like the same style of kiln I currently fire my work in, a 20 cubic foot Alpine updraft.

Now I know what to do with it when it gets replaced.

Thanks,
Paul

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Rob Addonizio on Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:47 am

Robert,

This is a GREAT article! I find it very welcoming how graciously you share your info with us here. No doubt you were in good hands with the expert assistance you got when necessary.

I AM going to build my own kiln in a few years too. I have learned gobs of info over the past year with this #*^%&#!'n kiln that I have now.... Razz . (its a long story, but I have FINALLY figured out how to make it do what I want it to do) It has been a good learning experience...

Thanks again Robert. Great lookin' pots too-

Take care,
Rob

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Todd Ellis on Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:29 pm

Your pots are lovely. I especially like your platter. Recycling is the answer to much of our Mother Earth's woes. Bravo to you !
Best, Todd

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  DWThomas on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:48 pm

That's quite a nifty project, and some inspiring results. There is a persistent rumbling that my local community college is going to put in a salt kiln that uses waste cooking oil for firing. That seems like an interesting "green" idea; it's not a new one, it has already been done elsewhere. I find it appealing, as each time I buy a donut I can tell myself I'm "helping to fire the kiln!" Laughing

DaveT

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Re: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Post  Robert Wallace on Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:25 am

Todd,
Thanks I am glad you like my work.

Dave,
Your donut reference made me Very Happy. Salt is my next project, I am looking at an old electric kiln shell, a raku burner, and doing low temperature salt (maybe cone 04, maybe cone 6?) Firing with used oil is a great plan. I do appreciate that almost all the wood I use is toss out material from a variety of saw mills. Some slabs, and some small rips that would just be burned in a pile every friday if I did not come pick them up.

Cheers

Robert Wallace
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