Monday, February 14, 2011
Enameling basics-Step 5 the first firing
So. You have sifted on the first coat of enamel. This would be the front of all of your pieces.
Once the kiln has reached melting temp, open the door and gently place the firing trivet in the kiln. You want to do this quickly and as safely as possible. Close the door. It takes a minute or so for the kiln to reheat back up to melting temp.
My kiln has a little window that you can look in. It is cool to watch the powdered enamel change. It goes from the powdered form, to a sort of orange peel look and then finally smooth and glassy.
When it is smooth and glassy, it's time to come out. I know this is vague. With my somewhat limited experience, I don't have the timing down to a precise science.
What I've read, is to check every 60 seconds to see if your enamel has reached the smooth glassy stage.
For me, the glare of the kiln is really hard on my eyes. I only like to look in there if I have my welding glasses on. The bad part about that is that I can't really see the surface of the pieces that well.
So, I watch the temperature on the outside of the kiln. I wait until it has reached close to the max melting point and wait about 30 seconds, and take the pieces out. You can always put them back in and repeat the firing process. It doesn't hurt anything at all.
Really all in all, the firing time is about 3 minutes. It happens quickly enough that you don't really have time to work on anything else, but not so quick that you don't start to think you should really be doing something else while you're waiting. If that makes sense.
I usually try to sift the next layer on other pieces real quick while keeping an eye on the temperature. You can't get distracted and forget or the pieces may over fire and get burnt.
All right. Next step, we'll see what those pieces look like when they come out of the kiln.