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How To Make a Potter’s Cut Off Wire

Stretch a wire at an angle as an aid to wedging clay. Sketch by Mel Jacobson.


How To Make a Potter’s Cut Off Wire

Reader Response: Firing at night to avoid brownouts

Recent Q&As: Labels missing from spare kiln elements

Memorable Quote

News: Mary Wills Wins Paragon Caldera



By Mel Jacobson

1) Attach a screw eye to the wall. (Please, find the wall stud.)

2) Add another screw eye at the edge of a wedging table. The angle of the wire is not critical.

3) Attach a spring to the top screw eye, and add a turnbuckle to the spring.

4) Stretch a piece of strong wire from the turnbuckle to the bottom screw eye. Piano wire is the best, but it is hard to wrap. Copper and light wire just break. Stainless steel wire is good. Pull the wire tight with pliers. Use the turnbuckle to stretch the wire so that it has the sound of a banjo string.

I had six of these cut off wires in my high school classroom, and the wires never broke. They were used by thousands of kids. The kids loved the “twang.” Mine is 50 years old.



The last Kiln Pointer was about firing a kiln at night to get better electric rates. Lisa Westheimer of West Orange, New Jersey wrote, “Another reason to fire at night is that some electrical grids, like the one in our town, power down during peak usage times (daytime, especially in summer) so that the grid does not overload and have brownouts. I found this out the hard way when my kiln failed to reach temperature within the allotted time and shut down. Now I turn on the kiln at 10 p.m., close the lid from vented position at 11 p.m., and the firing finishes fine at 8 a.m.”



Q. I have spare heating elements, but the labels are missing. How can I find out which kiln they are for?

A. You will need a wiring diagram for your kilns. The diagrams should give the ohms for each element. Use an ohmmeter to measure the resistance of each element. Lay the elements on a table, separating the loops of wire so that they do not touch. Measure the resistance by placing an ohmmeter lead at each twisted end of the element.

You will also need to compare the length of each element with the length of element grooves in the kiln.



"Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams." —Og Mandino



Mary Wills won a Caldera and Bead Collar at Glass Craft & Bead Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada last month. Mary lives in Jerome, Arizona, a town of 450 residents in the central mountains of Arizona. Once a copper mining town, Jerome is now known for its musicians and artists.

Mary owns Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes & Art Glass Gallery in Jerome. The gallery was founded 25 years ago. “The Nellie Bly is now the largest kaleidoscope gallery in the world,” said Mary. “My love of glass has grown out of my love of scopes. Our new Caldera kiln will be the community kiln that we will use for classes and share with the five scope artists who live here.”


The artist in you would enjoy the fields of bluebonnets in Mesquite, Texas. The flowers are visible from the back window of my house. I often seen a child, a pet, or a girlfriend sitting amidst a splash of bluebonnets while someone takes a picture. Norman Rockwall would have painted the scene, complete with a car parked nearby.

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 2013, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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