Notes! Notes! And more notes! I keep notes on everything I fire. Unfortunately I often jot my notes down hurriedly. Later I sometimes look at my notes and wonder what the heck I was trying to say. Today I finally sat down and transcribed all of my little sticky notes. Well, except the ones I couldn’t decipher.
When I fire a new piece I start with firing schedules I have used in the past and make adjustments based on the specifics of the new piece. How thick the piece is, how big, and the design itself may require tweaking of the firing schedule. As I deviate from the original firing schedule I write it down on a sticky note and attach it to the firing schedule I based it on. After the firing I go back to my sticky note and record the result. Well, at least that is the plan. Unfortunately sometimes I get sidetracked and forget to record the result.
This weekend I went back to all of my notes and organized them. I now have two binders. One binder holds all of the basic schedule information for full fuse, slump, drape, and fire polish. It also has a lot of the reference materials and guides that I have collected over the years. The second binder has all of the specific techniques or projects and the firing schedules I used with them. It has schedules for strip construction, stacked pieces, pot melts, pocket vases, etc.
I keep my firing schedules in an excel spreadsheet like the one below. I put formulas in the spreadsheet to calculate the approximate amount of time it will take for the kiln to reach process temperature. I like to take a peek and check on things at process temperature in case I need to adjust the hold time. I record the process temperature and hold time and also try to add a picture of the piece.