Friday, August 31, 2012


I've been plugging away at the kiln site. I have had to stop to get more bricks, silica sand and Hawthorn 40 fire clay for the mortar, etc.  I do have some pictures of the latest progress I've made. 
 Gate from above. There will be removable grate bars for the whole door width front to back, I have the just the front half removed here. I will be able to just walk in to load the kiln.

Door arch is done.

 First support...

 Support frame ready for lath.

Lath on and wall started.

Fire box door frame with pavers.

 Door arch and chamber arch in place. I'll cut and fill the gaps on each side, after. Super duty's on the inside and IFB's on the outside.

 Walls going up, both sides at the same time. I've got angles to the pavers for iron framing to grab on. I have approx. a 5/8" gap between the wall and the chimney filled with Kaowool to allow for the expansion of the bricks.

You can see how high the back top of the old chamber was. With this taper, I will keep the back hot with out over firing the front. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More progress on the kiln rebuild...

I have more done on the enlargement and reshaping of my manabigama. I had all the excavating done and was ready for stone dust base to put my concrete blocks on.  I took my time and got them all leveled up and ready for the expanded steel mesh or lath as some masons call it.                      

Now I started the layout, in brick as I had everything done on paper, making room for my shelves and the firebox. I made the necessary adjustments and it's looking good.  I moved the level for the grates up one brick as I know it's good to leave enough room for lots of glistening embers without choking the primary air intakes.

Now i can get the brick saw and make up some special mix mortar consisting of 50% fireclay and 50% grog. I'll make it the consistancy of peanut butter for troweling and like a milkshake for dipping. It will setup nicely when we fire. No Portland cement on the inside of the kiln though. I will add 10% to the outside's insulating coating (as a binder) of the course sawdust, fire clay, vermiculite and sand mix.  I will also use chicken wire to hold the insulation together as it will crack. 

I will remove the placed bricks and "mortar" them in place. This was a "dry run" to make adjustments where needed and get the layout right.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Update on the kiln rebuild

 I have the kiln down to the old buttresses and the chimney. There are some serious brick piles. I have the old slab cut and ready to remove.


Back hoe comes in handy! Glad I hung on to it! 

Ready for new base. I'll have a lower fire box floor and step down in the chamber.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This post is over due. I went to Rockport, MA earlier this summer with my wife Mary Ann for a nice, little vacation. While there though, I always paint, one of the reasons I go there. I paint in oils, plein air style... out in the open air, on location, painting what I see. We were walking around town checking out the shops and galleries and I walked into this one gallery and was talking to the owner/artist and admiring his work only to find out he was on his way out the door to go paint in Gloucester. I got invited along on the spur of the moment. How cool is that!? I'm going painting with Bruce Turner. We drove around checking his "spots" and ended up on this wharf that had what he was looking for. There was a pair of huge "sail boats" tied up to the huge dock pointing towards him. They were like this boat that I did take a picture of. I forgot to take a picture of what he was painting.

He set up his easel, that once belonged to either Robert C. Gruppe, son of the famous Emile A. Gruppe, or Emile himself, I can't remember. It is shown in this next picture I got off the internet with Robert painting and in the next one as well with Bruce painting.

Looks like the same one to me. Not all that important though, it was great to learn from Bruce. He shared his thoughts as they came or when I asked. I painted the boat on the dock, getting repaired.

I still have a lot to do, this is just an hour's worth of start.

Here is a picture of our set up.

It was cool to paint with him. I even purchased one of his small paintings as a retirement gift to myself. And a reminder of the day.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I have started the rebuild of my manabigama. I am carefully taking down everything, cleaning all the bricks up and then I am going to rebuild a new, bigger and better kiln. I have a few pictures of the start... of the physical part, as I have been designing, planning and researching for over a year now.


Took the pavers and insulation off the right side.


Saving the kaowool blanket!


Now I added a temporary support (the cover sheet from the steel roof order for the kiln shed extension) for the bricks. Once I start taking out the key bricks, the catenary arch, which is self supporting, will fall in. I don't want them to break or chip, super duty's are not cheap!


Temporary supports.


Almost done with the bricks but still need to take down the pavers below.


Temporary support removed leaving the base section.