Bert is a kiln. And a rather large one, able to fire 1 Patera Media and 2 Patera Magna sets in one go. We moved him in over summer, after a very successful Object Rotterdam left us with a lot of orders for the Poma/Olera series.
We got Bert second-hand from a lovely man who got it from a school where it was used ages ago. Since Bert was hardly ever used, he was just taking up space and needed to go. These things are built to last, and as you can imagine, it was no easy feat to move this monster of a machine. But we (Thomas, mainly) managed to get it into the workshop without breaking our (his) back(s).
First thing we needed to sort out was oven stones: in order to efficiently stack in Bert, we had to get new square stones and support.
We sourced them online and once the new set-up was in place, we excitedly started up the kiln for a first firing. Which resulted in.... a blown fuse.
Amping up the ampères
And thus started the quest of finding out what was wrong... All the time Bert was just standing there, unused, while Thomas was frantically firing Patera Magna and Patera Media in our smaller kiln and breaking his head about what could be the problem.
After a while, we got in touch with the original manufacturer of the kiln, who was happy to come check out the oven and see what could be the problem. It cost us a pretty penny to have him come over here and see our Beast Bert with his own eyes, but the verdict was clear: the oven was in good condition, no need to change any of the heating wires just yet. The problem was with the connection to the electricity grid: we needed to amp up the amperes.
Easier said than done. We enlisted help of our indispensible electricity guy Jan, who got into the technicality of things. Eventually we spent about the same amount of money on new electricity wires and the connection with its very own brand new electricity meter as we did on the oven in the first place, but we got it working!!
Rising temperatures & burned cookies
Unfortunately it seemed like we got Bert working a bit too well... The first glaze firing we set up took a long time to reach the maximum temperature. At least, that's what we thought by looking at the thermometer of the kiln itself. When we opened up the doors, the whole load came out like burned cookies... Turned out the internal thermometer meter was slightly off and the firing temperature had been too high.
Luckily we found a way to manually check the actual temperature inside the kiln with special cones. And after tweaking the firing programme a little bit with those cones to guide the process, we seem to finally have it all under control.
Bert on fire
Baker Bert is now up for business! Now all we need to do is feed his appetite for ceramics, and Thomas is working hard to make sure we can fire the kiln a couple of times each week, speeding up the production process from to 4-5 Patera per week (up from 2 a week).
That means that we can re-calculate the lead times for all outstanding orders :-D We'll be in touch with a new estimated lead time for each order soon. Can't wait that long to hear when your Patera is ready? Pop us an e-mail with your order-number or -date and we can let you know when we expect to have your fruit and vegetable bowl ready for pick up / shipment.