Thursday, May 28, 2009
Loading the Kiln, Cleaning Shelves, and Chopping Wood!
To Celebrate the glorious news that I finally have loaded the kiln, I have put these photos back to front. So here is the loaded kiln! After this magical moment, the kiln door is bricked up, so this is the last glimpse of all the pots before they are unpacked.
It has been a really long job getting things ready this time. I split lots of wood on Tuesday, and hoped to have loaded the kiln Wednesday. On Wednesday I hit a snag. I found that the kiln shelves were likely to cause problems in the firing, due to an accumulation of flaking kiln wash* on the top and bottom surfaces. The kiln shelves are all second hand, and sadly, both top and bottom of the shelves were coated with something to protect them from the ravishes of dripping glazes and kiln atmosphere. When I got them, the coating seemed firm enough, but it has started to crumble after several firings. Trouble is, most of it is still really hard to remove, but some just falls off. I spent several hours on Wednesday removing what I could with a wire brush, and a brush attachment to the electric drill. A horrible job, and I spent the time with a mask on to keep the dust out of my lungs. I hope I at least removed what was loose, but would have liked to have got rid of all of the stuff that was underneath. I recoated the top surfaces with a 80/20 mix of alumina and china clay.
Dealing with the kiln shelves only left me time on the remainder of Wednesday to prepare props for the shelves. Checking the old ones, and making some new ones from cut down fire bricks. In the evening I taught a little class of teenagers that have started coming to me for lessons.
Thursday saw me actually loading the kiln, and whilst I was working a furry face appeared on top of the kiln. Evidently Ginger needs to supervise me, if I am to do anything right!
Here is the kiln partly loaded. There don't look to be many pots, but it is amazing what is actually hiding in there out of sight.
I made a discovery today when making up some extra thick kiln wash. The potter's wheel can be used as a large scale mixer. Just put the bucket of things to be mixed on the wheel, hold tight to your stirrer.
Then treadle away and the mixing is done really easily with leg power, rather than with the arms. Wonderful!
Wood, wood, and more wood. This is just a portion of what we have prepared for the firing. I was worried that we would not have enough really dry wood, as we have had lots of rain over the last few weeks, and some of the wood was getting damp from all that water and moist air drifting into the wood shed. I think we will be OK though. Today, Laura has been splitting even more wood, just in case. Laura also made a cake yesterday and dumplings for tea today, so deserves a medal!
(* Kiln wash is a protective coating that is often applied to kiln shelves and to the kiln interior. Just a protective layer on the top surface of a shelf is much better as it protects the shelf from puddles and drips of glaze, but avoids the risk of flaking bits of itself onto pots that are below it.)