The Birth of Ruby – Kiln trouble

9 years, 10 months ago 27
Posted in: Work in Progress


An FTL error message flashes on the display of my kiln at the end of an extraordinary long firing, confirming my growing certainty that the heating elements are burned out and require immediate replacement. Although I’ve been anticipating the elements to fail any day now and ordered replacement parts early, I’m still annoyed at having to deal with it right this minute, particularly because it will delay Ruby’s bisque firing.

After a day of procrastination and another 11 hours of cleaning she is finally smooth and perfect enough to fire to maturity, but that will have to wait. Normally I would use my alternate kiln in this situation, but that needs repairs as well. I don’t think I’m going to make that house warming party after all – both of my kilns need to be taken apart.


I walk over to the tool closet to get my Ohm meter and measure the resistance in the elements, then change my mind: there is no point – I already know the are quite toast.

When my work surface is set up, I open up the control box to disconnect the wires, change the element connectors and then stick my arms into the kiln to carefully pull out its burned, brittle insides and replace them with brand new ones. My arms sting from the skin irritation and scratches caused by the contact with the fire brick, but having done it many times, the operation itself no longer bothers me like it did the first time I had to take my kilns apart. I was rather scared and nervous of not being able to put them back together again. In fact, I was so frustrated with it, that I even briefly considered just getting a new kiln every time the elements wore down, just to avoid the replacement procedure once every few months. How silly of me. But I got the hang of it and now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

A wire slips and cuts my hand just above the wrist. This is the 4th time. I curse under my breath, unable to stop what I’m doing. It will have to wait a bit. Sadly, superficial injuries are a part of the process. A kiln is worse than an angry cat sometimes.


I’ve only recently become aware that almost every stage of my work, perhaps with the exception of bead embroidery, ends with applying a moisturizer to my hands. It’s not really that surprising, as creation is usually a messy, skin irritating process, but what’s weird is that I never noticed this habit until I began to verbalize and externalize my creative process in writing, and suddenly the pattern came to my attention.

Today is no different either, only this time I need some Band-Aids as well.

Attention: Ruby is back on schedule now and will go up on the ebay auction November 25th.

27 Responses

  1. sarahdipity says:

    I love the face you are making in the last picture. I make that same face when threading a needle and doing complicated math.

  2. terri says:

    Oh no…well at least you know how to fix it.
    How often do you have to change the elements? Does the kiln tell you when it’s going to die or do you just have a sixth sense about it?

  3. Oh no Ms Enchanted do not throw out your kiln yet, I think you forgot her tiny little hands in there somewhere. They are no where to be seen in your tray.Girl you need some sleep now.I have to say I am glued to this screen. You go on now get some rest and I’ll just sit here lookin pertty until you come back………..

  4. kelly says:

    I was nervous when I had to wire a new control panel onto my kiln- and I was miffed that my kiln came with the wrong one! I felt great afterward that I’d done it. You are amazingly gifted and confident in your abilities, Marina.

    Those cleaned parts are beautiful!

  5. Annina says:

    ouch, that last picture makes me hurt!

    oh the Ruby parts look so silky smooth and i love that matte look!
    and hey, if there was blood there as well it could be a scene in dexter :O

  6. Maura says:

    I thought the time elapsed after your post on Sunday was a bit foreboding…fortunately, it was a problem you knew how to handle! But surely it sounds like a painful process..and you have to do it ever so often! Most definitely, birth is a painful process, even when it’s a doll that is being born! :)

  7. MissLK says:

    Respect, respect, and more respect for your problem solving determination! Such process with challenges in every step it involves makes each porcelain ED truly a million dollar doll.

    The resin line will land itself removing a good portion of the obstacles and then you can concentrate on painting and final detailing. You might after all miss the pain?!

    I am more enamoured with my Peacock Fiori and Lavanya than ever.

  8. Annina says:

    Miss LK i feel the same for my Iðunn, seeing and reading about the process makes her even more precious to me.

  9. Jon Songserm says:

    it make me feel like i’m hang round you in the studio.

    So amazing, please be carefull!

  10. Eiko says:

    That really sucks that the kiln broke down.I can imagine that it must be very frustrating to deal with. Tho I’m glad to hear that you managed to fix it.

    Hope the cut didn’t hurt too badly.

  11. Manü says:

    It’s a long way in the creation of Ruby and each ED’s individualy ,hope you will resolve the problems of your kiln. Take care of yourself

  12. Anne (UK) says:

    After reading all the work you’ve done so far on Ruby it really makes me appreciate my girl more and more (in agreement here with MissLK and Annina! )

    We are all so grateful that you are a patient person and soldier on no matter what!

  13. Delia says:

    We’re very interested in your doll. Could we present them in our magazine? If so, please send me a email.Cheers!

  14. ~Jenny~ says:

    Have you gotten a new haircut, Marina? =] It looks shorter. If you have it looks great. If not, well, it still looks great. =P

  15. Leah says:

    Same thing happens to me. I wind up usually burning myself a couple times when baking clay parts, and have gotten to the point that you just have to ignore them in order to keep going. Can be quite irritating though if you get a burn on a callus that you need for working with, like drawing, sculpting, etc. The pay off is knowing that everything you do is all leading up to the point where you finally finish your project after hours of tedious work and injuries :P

  16. Chris says:

    Thank you for sharing this process. When something goes wrong, your perseverance is quite encouraging. Love your last expression! Gritty determination.

  17. jslord says:

    Oh, Marina, I’m sorry you got cut. And I’m sorry for the frustration with the kiln. I do not deal with frustration at all well, but you are a good example of how one ought to behave–just keep moving.
    Ruby is so perfect. I love your dolls in the white stage. They are like alabaster statues, and perfectly exquisite.
    By the way, your profile shot in the first picture is beautiful.

  18. nuffi says:

    А шо баба то железяки ковыряет? :))
    С омметрами возится
    и руки свои драгоценные корябает
    Где все мужики? ёпрст? :)
    Нефиг мужикам бездельничать
    Хотя я не знаю как там у вас всё устроено :)
    Маринка береги руки!
    cheers :)

  19. Rebecca says:

    Can I even tell you how much I admire the fact that you fix and repair your own kiln?



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