Firing Clay Art Pieces in Omaha, Nebraska: Types of Kilns Used

Ceramic clays are made from clay minerals and other raw materials. They are water-based, meaning that eventually the water in the clay will evaporate and become hard and brittle. To prevent them from falling apart, pieces made of ceramic clay should be baked in an oven. Kilns are the place where the magic of ceramics happens.

The cooking process turns clay into pottery and your raw artwork into a finished masterpiece. While the first kilns consisted of a bonfire above a hole in the ground, technology has greatly improved to create sophisticated ceramic kilns. The way a piece of ceramic is fired has a big impact on the appearance of the final result. Shooting is an art in and of itself and requires an open mind and a lot of experimentation. There are two main types of kilns used for firing clay art pieces in Omaha, Nebraska: hand-held ceramic kilns and electric or gas ovens.

Let's take a look at each one.

Hand-Held Ceramic Kilns

Hand-held ceramic kilns are ovens that use a Dawson Sitter and switches to control the heating of the oven. When firing ceramic pieces with enamel, for example, a small clay cone is inserted at both ends of the oven and must be bent at a certain temperature. The switches would be set to low for one hour, half for one hour and then high. When the oven reaches the temperature that the cone will bend, it will turn off. Many use manual ovens exclusively for domestic use because they are less expensive, and there are always people nearby when the oven is turned on for safety reasons and because the switches are much cheaper to replace than a computer module.

Hand ovens can be used for a variety of purposes, including the annealing of ceramics, glass, and metal.

Electric or Gas Ovens

Among individual potters and amateur potters, electric ovens are the most commonly used. However, gas ovens are also a common way of firing ceramics. And gas ovens have been around longer than electric ovens. A “low-heat” clay (one that requires a low temperature in the oven) will melt if it is cooked at a temperature that is too high. The unglazed areas of the clay turn black from the carbon in the burning fuel and, when the charcoal is cleaned, a shiny metallic finish is revealed. When working with ceramic clay, the piece should be kept moist with a water spray bottle and wrapped in lightweight plastic to make it flexible.

The chemical processes that clay and enamel go through in oxidation or reduction cooking are very different. In ancient times, people extracted clay from the ground and made pots and pieces of pottery that were then cooked in primitive ovens and kept warm for many hours with fire. These ovens are always turned on by oxidation, which means that there is oxygen present in a fully controlled environment, which produces results consistent with enamels. Conversely, if you use “high heat” clay (one that requires a high temperature in the oven) and you cook it to a degree that is too low, it will never be completely solid (or “glassy”).When firing ceramic pieces in Omaha, Nebraska, it's important to understand what type of kiln you need to use to get your desired results. Hand-held ceramic kilns or electric or gas ovens can all be used depending on your needs.

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