So, I fired my glaze kiln last night. The hardest part of this process is waiting for it to cool down, so I can open it up and see how everything turned out! Normally, I know how things will look, but this time I put in some new glaze ideas, so I'm excited to see them. I have to keep myself busy the day after I fire, and not go into the studio. I'm always tempted to crack open the lid and peek. I usually wait until the temperature is around 200 degrees F.
If you open a kiln too early, many bad things can happen. The most common would be cracking or breakage from thermal shock. Colors often finish developing during the cool down too, so if you control or ramp down your kiln, it will give you different glaze effects than just allowing the kiln to switch off and cool down. One thing I do is hold the kiln temperature for 20 minutes. This allows the heat to work on my glazes better, and gives some of my more reactive glazes a chance to move a little bit on the surface of the clay.
So today, I'm at my computer, updating websites, filling out applications for shows and booking myself into farmers' markets. All to keep myself from peeking into the kiln!