Yesterday’s Mishaps Concerning Bowls of Steel

Yesterday I spent most of the day in the metal workshop using the manual CNC machine (see photos from yesterday in feed) grinding down and truing the rim of my second steel bowl. I spent about three and a half hours milling the steel rim down, it’s very slow, noisy and dirty work but I did enjoy it. I worked down the height in  tiny increments. By the last hour I was still going down in 10ths of a millimetre. It was nearly perfect when the Metalshop TD suggested that I swap the bit for a fine finishing cut. He selected a cutter from the cubboard and fitted it (very few of the bits in that cubboard seem to be sharp…) and fiddled with it for a bit. Then he switched it on and raised the work bed a bit to quickly I think and stuck the bit into the metal rim a bit too hard. It caused the bowl to grip and thus strain very hard against the wooden blocks clamping it down and snapped them. This meant the bowl started bouncing and a few chunks ended up being ripped out of the near perfect rim. The TD apologised and said it was their fault, I didn’t feel angry or annoyed with them, just dismayed that my work had been ruined so quickly! I was quite frustrated at the time lost….. 

The TD and I then tried several approaches to get an even bowl rim quickly involving a bench vice and angle grinder but nothing was really that good. I just hand ground it as flat as I could and filed and sanded it smooth. It has now been cleaned ready for enamelling.

The other disaster was the 1st bowl that I enamelled and fired on Monday night with the help of Ingrid. Ingrid set the controls on the kiln for me as I wasn’t sure how to work the interface. We both thought that the settings where all correct be they were not. The hold, which should have been 5mins and then shut the kiln off, went on all night until I turned the kiln off at 11 am the next morning. A bit of a disaster, the enamel is burnt out completely and the bowl surface blistered quite a lot. So it took a lot of cleaning today. see earlier picture posts from tuesday.

What have I learnt:

  • If the work is near perfect be wary of starting a new approach or letting other people doing anything to it. It’s just better that if it goes wrong that it is your own fault. 
  • When thing go wrong photograph them!
  • Get some more experience with kilns such as working control interfaces etc.
  • Sometimes you just have to sit with a kiln and watch what’s happening. 
  • Be more precious of work, don’t hand it other to others to work on so readily.  

Well now I have two steel bowls ready for enamelling today. So now I am going to enamel them both with a thin layer and then try and get them both fired today. Fingers crossed. 

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