Creativity is often an animal of waves, and my most recent wave involves enamels. Most of the new designs filling my sketchbook these days are complex metal constructions featuring an enameled focal point. I also have commissions on the bench needing enameling. And, I’m doing an out-of-state show this year for which I’m hoping to submit said constructed enamels. None of this is possible without Hot Sally.
Hot Sally is my Amaco 67-E. She’s a large enameling kiln that I purchased on e-bay years ago. I don’t know exactly how old she is, but I know that Amaco doesn’t make this exact model anymore. She’s even. She’s hot. She’s faithful.
Or, she was until now.
We planned an enameling day in the studio last week. When we decide to run Hot Sally, we studiomates usually cluster around her in the spirit of energy efficiency and share the heat. I cranked her up early the in morning and watched the pyrometer as I pursued other tasks. Enameling requires a range of heat around 1560°. But last Tuesday, Hot Sally could only make 1200°. Not hot enough.
I noticed the left element was dark. Not the glowing red it should have been. I donned the blue hot gloves and a tool or two to see if I could nudge the element to somehow make the glowing happen. The element travels through a linear spiral of ceramic brick, and the glowing stopped only an inch or so into the path.
I proceeded to take the kiln apart from the back, layer after layer, hoping to find the problem. By this time my studiomates were beginning to arrive, ready to enamel. It was no fun to be the one to tell them we had not enough heat to proceed. We sang the blues about Hot Sally going cold.
When I determined that the element needed replacing, I began to search for the part online. I could easily find elements for newer models, but not for Hot Sally. So, I called Amaco in Indianapolis and made friends with a lovely lady there who sent me exactly what I needed. The package just arrived, so I’m off to get Hot Sally back on track. Wish me luck!