• First kiln firing

    The moment of truth was last night, after connecting up the vent I placed my angel model in the kiln on end, it had barely 1/2″ of space between it and the underside of the lid, so it just fit!

    I used the pre-programmed slow bisque setting and let it run.

    About 13 hours and 16 minutes later it reached cone 05 as set to, and shut off. I decided to go and check on it to make sure I had set it right and it worked properly, so I went over at about 5 AM and it had shut off about 40 minutes earlier and had cooled down to about 1685 degrees, so I shut the vent off and went to bed.

    It took about 10 hours to cool down to about 250 degrees, so I just propped open the lid and did some work for a bit and let it cool down to about 170 degrees before I took angel out.

    The model firing came out perfectly, not one crack or any warpage, she shrunk about a 1/2″ in length.

    The color came out like the sample on the left in this photo.

    The model after firing, the heat of the kiln’s 1900 degrees changes the color of the clay to a very attractive red-orange brick color.


  • Kiln continued

    I finally have the kiln wired in, I ran into a couple of issues that required re-doing the conduit to 3/4″, changing a 90 degree fitting to a different type, and then having to get larger wire.

    The pain was the owner’s manual that came with the kiln, and their web site price list/installation PDF for this kiln states that it takes #10 wire and a 40 amp breaker which is totally wrong.

    I did the math, 6300 watts / 240 volts is 26.25 amps which is what’s on the name plate, and #10 wire’s max ampacity is 30, and using .80 for the safety margin to avoid nuissance trips and maxing the wire out, 24 amps.

    It became clear they screwed up in the documents and it has to be #8 wire. I sent Olympic an email about the error.

    I need to mount the vent motor to the wall and get some ducting for it next, but I turned the kiln on for a few minutes and it worked fine, it got up to 360 degrees before I turned it off.

    From the Bartlett controller manual it looks like a typical cone 6 firing on slow bisque would take about 15 hours, and since my work is heavy and thick, I’ll probably be using that slower speed the most.

    I have large cones for 4, 5 and 6, figuring cone 5 will be a good temperature for the clay. The raku clay I use for modelling has a very wide firing range, offhand I think it’s 05 on to cone 10.

    Here is it all hooked up except the vent, with my gorgeous professional looking conduit which was a bit of a chore to do the several bends to get into the bottom of the breaker box, tapconning it securely with brackets, and a nice tight 90 degree conduit body to come around the corner with a minimal amount of projection. The kiln is plugged into a Leviton Nema 5-60 receptacle, the circuit has a separate ground wire and the outlets and conduit are grounded to that.

    I think this location in the basement turned out ideal, concrete floor and wall, brick wall, nothing flammable nearby, short run for the power and plenty of floor space around the kiln.

    I do need to wire in a 4 foot fluorescent lamp to replace the single bulb in this corner.

  • New Kiln

    My Olympic kiln was delivered the other day,

    I was real impressed with everything about the shipment and kiln, it was well packed, and strapped securely to a new wood pallet.

    It came with everything one could need! opening the three cardboard boxes in the shipment, there was the vent kit with everything included- clamps, hoses, colelctor cup, extension legs, instructions, even a drill bit was included to drill holes with (though the kiln had them already predrilled for the vent system)

    The other boxes included the shelves, stilts and posts, an extra set of upper and lower elements, bag of element pins, kiln wash, kiln mortar, a box of sample large cones, set of three peep hole plugs, a pair of GB wire cutter/strippers, manual for the kiln, manual for the Bartlett controller, manual for the vent, a booklet about Orton cone, and an extra thermocoupler. I mention everything off the top of my head and think I got it all.


  • Monogram

    I have the model finished, except for the final cleanup, straightening and sharpening edges etc.

    There really isn’t a way to have the letters go under and over each other like this without “bending” to do it, or else make the letters extremely deep or “stepped” rather than bending, but they are already about 1/2″ high.

    I had initially thought it might work but raising one letter much higher to make it flatter and then to go over another lower letter next to it without “bending” down to do it doesn’t work, so as it dries and firms up a bit more this weekend I’ll be tidying up the surfaces and edges and getting them smoother in the bending curves as well.

    It was an interesting conversion from 2D to 3D and presents some interesting problems in 3D form you don’t have in the 2D form.

  • Monogram

    I thought I would make a model after this very ornamental monogram pictured below:

    The antique original pictured above came from the old James McCreary Dept store on 23rd Street, 6th Avenue, NYC, I removed it from the lower portion of one of the metal elevator doors when the building was being demolished around 1974. I had added the frame and painted detailing around then.

    The poor photo from 1982 doesn’t show it well, but it’s a very entwined, ornamental 3D design that would translate nicely in clay I think.

    I will make the design about 15″ square.

    The original sign is low relief but interesting intertwining of the letters, so I thought a much deeper relief would lend itself to some interesting treatment with various relief heighs, shadows and cutouts. I think a textured background, smooth letters will do best, haven’t decided on the texture yet, maybe a ball peened, or wood notched tool marks.

    I decided to go with full size, making the monogram end up about 15-16″ square on an 18″ background which will shrink a little. I used course red clay as I have two boxes of it I need to get rid of before it’s too stiff to use.

    Setting up the model with the lettering outlines inscribed on the clay for reference:

    I will probably make the letters quite raised, 3/4″ or even more.

    The monogram is: J M Mc Co. which was the James McCreary Co. department store dating back to the 1880s.

  • Art Deco D9 ready

    I have the first cast on hand now of this panel, this one is reserved for a client, the red is the base color in the casting material and this is drying out before I can apply the finish to it:

    D10 is next, and the mold for that will be finished next week.

  • columbia

    Artifact from the Riviera/Riverside theaters in NYC, removed in 1976

    She was based on the old symbol for America “Columbia” pictured below, which was the female symbol before the Statue of Liberty. Though bearing a similar resemblance to one another, Columbia is much older.

  • Panels D8, 8 and 10

    A client ordered a D8 panel in the red terracotta, and before I crate it for shipping I thought i would snap a picture of it.

    Another client ordered one as well, and she also purchased D9 and D10 which have been finished but not molded as they were pending a firm order before doing that step.

    Next week I should be starting work on the molds for D9 and D10, for reference they are pictured below and they will be in production in a couple or three weeks or so.

  • Art Deco D10 finished

    I’m going to consider this model as finished (other than some overall cleaning up) and to-morrow if I feel better from the nasty cold I have I’ll strip the wood form off the sides and finish straightening and cleaning up the sides, top and bottom.

    With this model out of the way I’ll be working on scaling the size for the next model from this Commodore Hotel copper cornice design.

    The cornice is far too big to use the design in the same size, remember- this cornice was installed on the 30th floor of the hotel- red arrow.

    Here’s a side view, the tape measure can’t be read in the photo, but the cornice projects out form the wall 18″

    I will determine a practical reduction size for the model this week and update the blog with what I decide, but it will be started at least this week.

  • D10 Art Deco “Enlightenment” progress

    I haven’t done much on this model in the last couple of weeks since I’ve been busy elsewhere on other things, but today I did some work on this and will continue working on it this afternoon.

    I spent some time this morning refining the hand a bit, the face, and general overall cleaning up of surfaces, and re-drawing the incised lines to clarify and clean them up a bit.

    The arm is accentualised and becomes a feature which draws the eye in first, it shows strength and power- both themes which were very popular in the 1930’s and you’ll see this in much of the architectural figural sculptures of that era. Some noted ones would be found on Rockefeller Center in NYC.

    The lower left corner hints at buildings in a city, while not being defined or detailed in any way, the block and slab shapes easily convey to the viewer the impression of a city. One could refine and detail these crude shapes making them more realistic, but then it would not fit the overall well, and this feature would then tend to draw the viewer’s eye towards that lower corner. Doing that would convey a different initial imporession moving away from “power, strength” and going off into a different direction entirely.

    What would that first impression be if this was done?

    The overall view with the sun, clouds, and light rays all being very obvious features in the design, all handily bring out the “enlightenment” theme, but these features along with the arm which also follows the same diagonal lines as the sun’s rays also bring forth “strength, power.”

    More “cleanup” will happen as the clay becomes firmer.

    The top right corner I will be working on next.

    Overall it’s turning out well.

  • D9 Art Deco “Endurance” finished

    This model is now almost dry and is finished, as before I will not be making a mold until I have a firm purchase order for the first cast.

    Maybe next week I will start the 3rd and final planned model in this set.

  • More progress

    Now that I’m mostly caught up on making and shipping casts people ordered the past 2-3 weeks, I am finally able to get back to working on this model again.

    I didn’t do much at all the last couple of weeks as I had other things to get done, and even covered in plastic and spritzed periodically, it’s gotten a bit firmer than I wanted, but as long as I finish it this weekend and not let it go much longer- I can hollow the back out and let it rapidly dry out.

    It is called “Endurance” 17″ x 28,” modelled after an original ca. 1928 design by Rene P. Chambellain

    It’s not as “flat” a design as it appears to be in the straight-on view, here it is from the side;

    I have 5 concrete casts I need to stain for a client and crate then ship them this week, so I’m not sure if I will start the 3rd panel in this series next weekend or the following week, I’d rather not set up the form and clay and then have it sitting for 2 weeks before I get to it.