Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kiln is Done

I reached cone 12 in front(the arc on the right)in the first picture. I also was able to get cone 10 over in the back. You can see it just to the left of the center brick in the second picture. I told you about Buddy in the first post and wanted to show my kiln god, "Buddy", made for me by fellow ceramist Ruth Apter of One Hundred Horses. He has brought me nothing but good luck.
The next morning, I was able to get a peek inside. I tried wood firing some beads for my wife to sell on her etsy site. ( They look ok, as do the rest of the oribe pieces and others.

Next Firing

I thought I would show some of the firing process. I have a picture of the front of my kiln, showing how I "candle" for about two and a half hours. I use small sticks, approximately one inch by one inch. I keep the fire small and slowly build up a bed of embers. This starts the snowfall of ash and slowly warms up the kiln. I then moved the fire "on" the grate. I slowly built up embers, ash and heat. If I needed more embers I used bigger pieces of wood or mixed a big one or two in with the smaller ones. I stoked the kiln for about 9 hours and then I kept it between 2100 and 2260 for about four hours to even out the kiln, meaning I wanted the back of the kiln to get hotter. I have included a picture of the mirror propped up against the house where I can watch the flame that's "above me" so I know when to get ready to re-stoke when the flame retreats into the chimney.

If I get too hot in the front, too fast, the front will get up to cone 12 before the back gets to cone 10. If I keep going to get the back hotter, the front will over- fire. This might help potters new to wood firing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Big Bud"

I just had to write again to tell you about our (my) rescue dog Buddy. When we first saw him, he lived in a circle of dirt about 10' across. He was on a heavy, five foot chain, that was attached to a metal jungle gym. His food was spilled in the dirt and he would patiently wait for one of the many shoeless children to walk by with food in hand, that he could "relieve" them of. He weighed about 60 lbs. and was skin and bones. Today, he has put on solid weight and looks great! I throw the ball for him daily with this "Chuck-it" that is like a throwing stick, and he loves to retrieve it again and again. He is a Lab/Rottwieler mix and is a fantastic, loyal, loving, gentle dog. If anyone is considering a dog in the future, don't forget the endless supply of "rescue" dogs out there just waiting for a second chance.

He ran away for a week when we first brought him home. After that, we only saw him a few times, like Sasquatch sightings. We would see him run across the opening to the lower meadow or dashing through the woods surrounding our country home, complete with his new red collar and leash in tow. We finally hid in the barn where we were feeding our vanishing dog, and rigged up a rope to pull the door closed behind him, when he came in to eat. He grew to trust us and enjoy his new home.

I bring him up, because I bonded with him at the kiln when I was building it. He had obviously been mistreated and was very afraid of adult males. I noticed he was getting closer and closer each day as I worked on the kiln. I spoke softly to him and eventually he was laying next to me. I named my kiln "Big Bud".

Retaining wall

I finished putting in a small retaining wall and some berming to keep water out from under the kilns' foundation. Next spring, I'll add some color out there, but for now I'm busy getting ready for the winter. I think the kiln will last a lot longer if the winter freeze doesn't get under there. ;-] I also added some more adobe mix on the back of the chimney. I fired last Saturday, my ninth firing so far. I finished building this kiln a year and a half ago, in July '08. I like the smaller size, as I am firing it by myself. I can get cone 12 down in 9 1/2 hours if I wanted to, but I like to slow it down to around 13-14 hours. It gives the pieces more time for ash build up and there is less problems with the firing. I am firing bisqued, glazeware in case my firing times were making you wonder... I like ash accented shinos, glazes and oribe.