I started the firing at 2.30am. (I wish the night sky would show up in the photograph, but my little camera just won't do stars). The little fire that I had lit at 4.30 and kept going until we went to bed at 11pm had warmed the ash pit nicely, and I had only to put a sheet of newspaper and some small bits of wood in there for them to flare into life without needing matches. The kiln had held onto its 100 degrees C (212 F).
I like to go very slowly at the beginning of the firing, especially as some of the work is quite large. What I do is I slowly build a fire in the ash pit below the grate. Just a very small fire at first right at the mouth of the firebox. Then I progressively push the hot embers back into the ash pit, until they are the full length of the firebox. I do this over about an hour and a half.
I went from 110 C (230 F) to 270 C (518 F) in 2 and a half hours. At this temperature I started adding wood above the grate, and phased out the ash pit stoking, there being a really good layer of incandescent coals burning in the pit (as you can see in the photo above). The next two hours have averaged 100 degrees C ( 212 F) per hour. I have to hold back the kiln at this stage, to stop it climbing too fast.
I've partly covered the ash pit with a couple of fire bricks here, and jammed a lot of wood into the mouth of the firebox. This slows things down somewhat. I also can control things a lot with the chimney dampers.
Laura brought me a very welcome cup of tea just after 6 am.
The kiln god decided to get up at 6 and join me too, which was nice. I'm well wrapped up as the air temperature is not far above freezing, and there is a light frost forming on some things outside as I write this.