Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pots from the Kiln

I thought I would share a few photos of some of the pieces from the kiln. The color of the clay body turned out well, a little more buff brown than the gray of the draw trials, but hopefully I will figure that out.
Some of the pieces had great ash coverage from the two consecutive kiln firings without unloading and a build up of ash. I did have a few mugs and small dishes coated in ash that didn't melt though and that was a little disheartening.
"Crock pot"
The only major piece of sculpture was the above piece where a flower pot and a pickling crock fused together at their bases. We're calling it the "crock pot" and might plant some flowers in it and put it on the front porch.
Here are a few more pieces:
Compost crock with white slip trailed design

Mug with blue and white design

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Kiln Firing Results!

Kiln door down!
 After two days of cooling, I was able to take the door down and start unloading this morning. Other than a few major stuck pots with running ash and a few pots with dry ash on them, I am very satisfied and excited about the results. Some of the cobalt blue slip designs I made on a few dishes got There was definitely a large ash build up from the first attempt last week and then the firing this past weekend. This photo is of an almost 1/2 inch build up of ash on the bottom floor of the kiln behind the door:
Ash build up
Here are the first peeks into the kiln:
Exciting blue!

Pots on the top stack when I first started removing the door
Here are the first two pieces out of the kiln, snatched from the top stack:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Successful Firing!

Brenda salting the kiln
 Yesterday was a success in firing my kiln for the second go-around. I installed three passive dampers in the rear and sides of the chimney prior to the firing. That basically means I knocked three bricks into the chimney and replaced the holes with removable angle bricks. I hate to know how stuck those bricks are that got knocked into the chimney are! The passive dampers really helped with forcing cool air into the chimney which kept the heat in the ware chamber for a longer period of time. It cut down on my fuel usage too, which amazed me. It wasn't until it was above 1300 degrees Fahrenheit that the kiln really started eating wood, and even then it was not as much as I thought it would have been.
Add caption
 The above photo is of some of the draw trials I pulled from the kiln between the periods of salting. I am very excited to see the gray clay body and the blue cobalt slip colors look good! I am a little concerned about the amount of ash that accumulated from last week's firing with the additional ash from this firing. The below photo is of one of the last draw trials I pulled out from a particularly hot part of the kiln, but when I went to pull it out, it was slightly stuck and then trailed this long spew of salty ash behind it! It looked like a very thin sliver of taffy! When the kiln was crash cooling (I'm sorry I didn't have the mind to take photos) it was evident there is going to be a lot of runny ash glazed pots, which could be either really wonderful or really disastrous.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Kiln Attempt

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!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Video - Dropping the Arch!

Here is a video of the arch being dropped on the kiln today! The hydraulic sound from the bottle jack adds to the drama and excitement! This link will take you to the video on YouTube in case this embedded video does not work. I will be sure to post some more photos soon of pots and kiln building - on to finish the chimney and hope to fire soon!
Contented with the kiln arch