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How were pyrometric cones developed?

Ceramists of the past judged when the firing was completed by the color of the heat and length of firing. In 1886, a German ceramist named Seger made clay cones that bent when the ware received the proper heat work. He positioned the cones on a shelf inside the kiln. By looking through a view port in the kiln, he could see the cones bend and knew when to turn off the kiln. His cones took the guesswork out of firing.

Today we still use Seger’s cones. They are small pyramids of clay and mineral oxide that soften and bend when exposed to heat. When consulting your dealer with a glaze problem, you should have a bent cone from that firing. The cone will help trouble shoot the problem. The cone lets you compare one firing to the next. If the cone bends less and less with each firing, it indicates that the thermocouple is wearing and will soon need replacement. Without cones it would be difficult to know that.

Cones are manufactured in the U.S. by the Orton Ceramic Foundation and available from your distributor.

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