L&L Company: Computer Controlled Electric Kilns
In the last couple of years we have replaced 3 of our 4 indoor electric kilns with new ones built by the L&L Company that are computer controlled. In many ways this was the first phase of the overhaul of our indoor kiln room. These L&L computer controlled kilns have provided us with a new level of firing control, and ease in what is known as an "oxidation atmosphere". This capability enables the gorgeous red terra-cotta and white Maiolica glazes in our handbuilding and pattern and decoration classes possible. Based on our first hand experience with many different kiln manufacturers we chose to purchase L&L kilns. L&L's have a number of excellent features including a patented hard liner for the grooves in the brick that support the heating elements, which make them extremely durable, and easy to use and maintain!
Donovan Palmquist (New): Master Kiln Builders
Master kiln builder Donovan Palmquist built two new kilns, including the largest: a kiln that can accommodate large scale sculptural pieces up to 6'x6'x5'! As a practicing potter for over 30 years Donovan has brought a new level of professionalism and quality to the old model of studio artist/kiln builder. Since 1996 he and his crew have built over 140 kilns for studio artists and Universities (including 11 at the University of Minnesota). Donovan's kilns are in the model of traditional university ceramics kilns - they provide a "hands on" firing experience for students with continual manual control of the gas air and damper.
They are significantly more energy efficient that the old kilns for the following reasons:
1. Donavan is using the highest quality materials for the kilns he's building, which are referred to as "downdraft" kilns (as opposed to the old "updraft' style) where more heat is preserved by forcing it to exit through a hole in the bottom of the kiln rather than a hole in the top.
2. The kilns have burners with "forced air" (as opposed to the old "passive air" burners) in which an electric fan actually blows air through the burner hole causing fuel and air to mix more efficiently.
3. Due to his experience and high level of quality, Donovan’s kilns are "tight" - less experienced builders often make mistakes and cut corners when stacking bricks or building kiln arches that contribute to holes in the kiln and increasing heat loss over time.
Gerard Blaauw (New): Kiln Builder
The third new kiln that will be built in our ceramics program is currently on a boat from Holland, from the Blaauw Company. Founder Gerrard Blaauw studied Industrial Design at the Gerrit Reitvelt Academie, one of the premiere programs in Europe. Blaauw kilns are much more in the model of industrial ceramics furnaces - and will introduce our students to a whole new type of firing and control over their work. This kiln can be fired entirely with a computer, reducing firing labor, and making the fuel to air mix extremely efficient and precise. It will dramatically reduce the labor and energy required for firing large quantities of work. Because of the state of the art, computer controlled combustion and insulating materials Blaauw kilns are widely known as the most energy efficient studio ceramics kilns in the world!