Today I changed out some thermocouples on my middle-aged electric kiln, Jupiter. I call it middle- aged because I have two other kilns. Ellie (who used to be named Bertha) has been in the studio longer than I have (pre 1992) and I got Otis in 2007. Jupiter came along in 2004, thus the "middle aged" moniker. I noticed recently that there was a pretty big temperature difference between the top and bottom which is not ideal. The diagnosis was that I probably need new elements but also the thermocouples (which read the temperature in different parts of the kiln) were shot.
When I first started making pots the idea of repairing a kiln was sort of up there with performing dental work--not something I would imagine I could ever do. I've been lucky in the kiln repair department because the building manager at 1 Cottage Street is an electrician and really understands how kilns work. One of the things I've learned from him is to accept that kiln parts are "wear items." Something about heating things to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, then cooling them to room temperature, then repeating the process again and again over the course of months causes them to break down eventually.
After the kiln repair I spent the day in my office. Anna and I packed a huge order to go to Ansel Adams Gallery. I also had to attend to some web site updates and order some supplies. I wanted to order new dental "explorers"--which is the best tool for getting leaves back out of the clay after the imprint is made and the background color is sprayed over the top. The ones we have are about 15 years old and a few are wearing thin.
I'm sorry to say Darby Dental Supply informed me that I now must have a dental license to order tools from them. Apparently other people are not as averse to the idea of "do-it-yourself" dentistry as I am and I guess they just don't want the liability. I tried unsuccessfully to sincerely impart that I would not be performing root canal, or even a basic cleaning and the tool really was going to be for use only in my pottery studio. Despite my sincerity, I could not procure the desired tool. They suggested I search Ebay or Amazon. I was able to find a few and ordered the last 3 in stock. They were not exactly what I wanted, but they will do. And while they, too are "wear items" they will likely last for another two decades or so, by which time I hope the need for dental explorers will have completely disappeared from society.