Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kiln Site Visit and Cleaning Brick

Cleaning brick
My world has been a whole lot of cleaning brick lately to get some more of the kiln completed. We've also been working to finish the kiln/machine shed completely before the summer sets in. Lord knows no one wants to work on building a structure in July or August with the heat we have been having lately! I can't imagine what it's going to be like this summer!
Blossom on a zucchini plant!
I have also been working on the 150+ tomato plants we have planted at the farm, suckering and getting them tidied up. We have blooms on our squash and zucchini plants as well as small squash and zucchini! Looks like we may have two varieties of zucchini and some yellow squash at the Greensboro Curb Farmer's Market this weekend!
The trip to Williamsburg/Yorktown, Virginia went well last week. Too brief as usual. Here are some teasers from my visit to Yorktown last week to see the collection of materials from the William Rogers kiln site, from around the second quarter of the 18th-century. See if you can make some guesses as to what is going on in the photos, and then I'll try to get a more detailed post up about some of my finds soon!
Courtesy, National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown Collection

Courtesy, National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown Collection

Courtesy, National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown Collection

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catching Up, Show, and Scapes!

"Here's looking at you!"
Last week seemed like the week of playing "catch up" after being away, and getting ready for a show while playing catch up is a bear! I have not forgotten you, dear readers!
Base complete

Floor brick on
The kiln is coming along. Running around like a crazy person (the usual) has kept me from just knocking it out, but I am proud of the progression. Following these photos, the base for the chimney was poured and the block set over the weekend, so I will be tying in the chimney this coming weekend! 
Walls going up!

Door opening at front of kiln
Garlic scape!
Another exciting development on the farm is that we have had scapes on our hardneck garlic! We took some to the Greensboro Curb Farmer's Market last Saturday and should have more there this coming weekend! Scapes are the seed head of the garlic, which comes out in a loopy vine-like piece on the top of the garlic plant. It is a very subtle garlic flavor, and makes an exquisite pesto. I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on some while they're around!
Pottery Fair on the Square
 The Pottery Fair on the Square at Old Salem went really well this past weekend. Thank you to those who made it out, and new friends and customers who stopped by! Great weather, and the big water cooler found a home. I'm intending to make a few more for the new kiln to try out some designs and styles.
Water Cooler
I am off to Yorktown, Virginia today to see the William Rogers kiln site once more in wrapping up my research and in preparation for a lecture I am doing in June. If you have any interest in Virginia earthenware, there's still time to register for the 2012 Virginia Decorative Arts Seminar entitled, "Earthenware of the Old Dominion"!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weekend Away and More KILN BUILDING!

I spent this last weekend away at Valle Crucis in the mountains at a wedding. Part of the weekend was spent in the rocking chairs as photographed above, and part of the weekend (outside of the FANTASTIC wedding!) was spent looking at beautiful scenery such as this:
Valley behind the Mast General Store

Reception table at the wedding overlooking the mountains

Waterfall above the Valle Crucis Conference Center
I played catch up and got some rest on Monday, then it was back to work! Today Joseph came and helped some more with the kiln building. A lot of progress was made today! The base is done and the walls are going up! This is a going to be a big beast of a kiln!
I am very excited. My reflection on building a kiln though is connected to my weekend away at a wedding. Building a kiln is like getting married. It can be expensive, possibly nerve wracking, you may not know whether it will work out forever, you may not always get along, but by golly, it's a fixture of your life now!
Here are some photos of today's work:
Base of kiln finished

Floor brick going in, dry stacked

Joseph laying the brick in as the walls go up!

Door opening of the future kiln!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kiln Opening and Kiln BUILDING!

My setup at Joseph's
 It has certainly been an exciting last couple of days!It has been filled with preparation for the kiln opening and kiln building!
The kiln opening at Joseph Sand Pottery this past weekend went really well. Thank you all to those who came out for a visit! Don't forget that this coming weekend the kiln opening will be taking place on Saturday, May 12 from 9-5:00 and Sunday, May 13 from 12-5:00. I will not be there, unfortunately, but fortunately it is for a very happy reason- my brother is getting married! I may show up Sunday afternoon, but we will have to see. If you cannot make it to the opening at all, I have put a few pieces from the kiln firing on my Etsy site!
A stack of flowerpots caved over in the back of the kiln

Two shelves broke at the top of the stacks in the kiln resulting in some sculptures like this

Joseph showcased a few of the kiln accidents at the opening. They are fascinating to look at, but utterly frightening when you're the potter! 
Raking and leveling the sand for the kiln base
Joseph and I started building my kiln on Monday! There were a few hiccups to getting things going and it took a little longer to get everything prepped, but by golly, we had a base and the first course by the end of the afternoon! The kiln will be a modified Olsen Fastfire kiln. Modified in the sense that the firing boxes are enlarged for salt firing and using hard brick throughout the kiln.
Joseph measuring the base block/brick
My Facebook post from yesterday read:

Observations on first day of kiln building:
1. When you go to pick up the sand and have a man with you, just smile and laugh casually when the guy who loads the sand says to the man with you something along the lines of, "now you be sure to help her with that, hahaha" (I resisted glaring)
2. If you got an estimated number of brick for one part of the kiln, add at least another 50-100 to that number.
3. Sand and clay mixed together resembles a Wendy's frosty.
4. When you think you've moved enough 40 pound block/brick, there's still another 20 or so to be moved...
5. Kilns are expensive. It's not just the materials that go into it, but the blades and other machinery required to build it that adds up!

First course of brick down

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kiln Opening Spring 2012

Lots of pretty pots came out of the kiln firing from the other weekend!I will be a featured guest at Joseph Sand's kiln opening starting this weekend.
The kiln opening will this weekend, May 5 from 9-5:00 and 6 from 12-5:00, and May 12 from 9-5:00 and 13th from 12-5:00. Joseph's address is 2555 George York Road in Randleman, NC. You can find directions on Joseph's website.
Decorated dish
Ash glazed vase

Large decorated vase
Check out Joseph Sand's preview of the kiln opening with great pictures of his pots that will be for sale! Here are a few shots I made of a select number of pots I thought turned out really well. Enjoy! Hope to see you this weekend!