Sorry not to keep you updated. Late last week I finished the chimney on the kiln. As I shared on Facebook, my other half commented that I looked like a bum in my grubby clothes, but it felt great to put that last brick on.
On Sunday I made some final adjustments and loaded the salty beast up to the brim with new pots. What a sight! My very own kiln filled with my very own work! I will be doing single firing, so all of the pots in the kiln are raw. It took longer to figure out the shelving arrangement than the worry of wanting to go slowly to avoid breaking any pots!
And then on Monday I fired it up early and it ran smoothly, beautifully, climbing in temperature, hitting my goal marks on each hour. That is, until it reached about 1800 degrees.
Accepting defeat is a good thing, and embracing what may seem like a failure is also good in order to learn lessons and make changes. Or, at least that is what I started telling myself last night when we sat at the same temperature for over two hours, trying to get it at least up to Cone 8, but to no avail. I shut it down. Lesson one: if you think your wood is dry enough, it's probably not. The larger wood I started using in the higher temperatures had too much moisture which started slogging down the climbing pace and eventually choking everything up. The coal build up after such a long firing was immense and hard to handle at the end. Lesson two: if you think you have enough wood, double or triple that amount because you may run out. I used a lot of my smaller wood at the beginning, which became harder at the later point to balance out between the larger pieces and the smaller pieces. Lesson three: flue opening and draft. The flue became a problem because it was too large and had too much of a draw, which was good at the beginning, but not at the end. I'm going to try and make a few adjustments without having to take the whole stack down. Today I started getting fresh wood and hope to treat the kiln like it has been bisque-fired and run another firing on Sunday. Here's to hoping for no cracked pots or pots blowing up and a little smoother firing at the end!