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Changing an Element in a Small Firebrick Kiln

Lay the new element on top of the kiln so you will know where to bend the element for the firebrick corners.


Changing an Element in a Small Firebrick Kiln

Recent Q&As: Spray or brush kiln wash onto the brick bottom?

A Kiln Story: The Cracked Firebrick Bottom

Memorable Quote

News: Paragon Awards Kiln for Cory Hunter’s Teapot Set

News: LaWatha Wisehart Wins Paragon Kiln



Changing an element in a small kiln seems difficult because of the limited working space. But as with most jobs, there is a way to simplify the task. The secret is to bend the element first where it fits into the firebrick corners. (Most Paragon elements come stretched and bent; elements for some of the small kilns are stretched but not bent.)

To illustrate this article, I installed elements in the Paragon FireFly kiln. No tools are necessary to bend the element.

1) Position an element on top of the sidewalls. Hold an element end in line with one of the holes where the element enters the firing chamber. (The holes are behind the porcelain insulators and element connectors.)

2) Bend the element with your hands where the element aligns with the first groove corner. Continue making the bends for the other corners.

3) The other end of the element should line up with the second element hole. Stretch or compress the element coils with your hands, if necessary, to make the element reach the second firebrick hole. (See the photo above.)

As you will see, once the element is bent for the corners, it installs easily even in a very small kiln.



Q. Should kiln wash be sprayed or brushed onto the kiln floor?

A. We don’t recommend spraying kiln wash onto the kiln floor. This is because airborne kiln wash particles could land in an element groove, burning out an element. Instead, brush the kiln wash onto the firebrick bottom with a haik brush or a paint brush. Coating the firebrick floor or kiln shelf should take only a few minutes, because you don't have to let the kiln wash dry completely between coats. Brush on the kiln wash, allow to dry a few minutes, and brush on the next coat. People tend to apply too much kiln wash the first time they use it, because the coating looks too thin. As the kiln wash dries, though, it becomes opaque.



Last Friday at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts show (NCECA), a woman named Betty told me she had recently lifted the bottom shelf out of her kiln for the first time in months. The shelf had been positioned on one-inch posts. Betty was alarmed to find cracks in the kiln bottom.

“I showed the cracks to a friend, and she said I would have to replace the brick bottom,” Betty said. “Will I?” She looked at me earnestly, as if she were asking a doctor about a serious diagnosis. Voices hummed in the background, and people milled past the Paragon booth as we talked.

I opened “Firebrick Maintenance,” a Paragon publication, and pointed to a picture of a cracked brick bottom. “Does your kiln look like that?” I asked. Several ugly cracks ran through the bricks in the photo.

“Yes. It looks just like those cracks.”

“Then you don’t need to replace the firebrick bottom. Those cracks are normal,” I said. “The cracks close tightly during firing.” As long as the brick bottom is stable, the cracks are okay.

“I’m so relieved,” Betty said. “I was dreading replacing the brick bottom.” A smile replaced her worried expression.



“There is so much to see at NCECA. I rush everywhere so I won’t miss anything!” --an anonymous comment



Paragon awarded a Caldera digital kiln to Kastner Intermediate School of Fresno, California. The kiln was a prize for a ceramic teapot set made by Cory Hunter, an 8th grade student at Kastner. Cory and his ceramic teacher, Fred Figueroa, entered the teapot set in the National K-12 Foundation ceramic competition held at NCECA.


Paragon held a kiln drawing last week at Glass Craft & Bead Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. LaWatha Wisehart won a digital Caldera kiln complete with bead collar. LaWatha, we look forward to seeing pictures of the glass that you make in your new kiln.


I enjoyed meeting many newsletter readers at NCECA, which was held last week in Tampa, Florida. Lisa Westheimer showed me several stunning pieces fired in her Home Artist.

Last Thursday evening after a heavy rain, a potter friend named Mel Jacobson and I left the conference center and walked in the direction of the USS American Victory, one of the few remaining World War II cargo ships. We walked about a mile through wet streets and found the ship, which loomed high above us and glowed in the moonlight. It was a walk back into time to the 1940s.

I flew home on Saturday aboard a packed flight. I read a book while standing in line for security, waiting at the gate, and throughout the flight. Reading can make even a crowded flight enjoyable.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd., Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 / / /

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2011, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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