Friday, June 19, 2009

Firing all done. Now 11.15 at night.

It was unusual for me starting the firing in daylight, but that is the way things worked out this time. I usually start really early in the morning to try to avoid finishing in darkness in case someone notices the flame coming out of the chimney at night and calls the fire brigade.
Friends Lindsay and Dan were an enormous help throughout several hours of the firing, and we had a lovely shared fish and chips meal whilst stoking the fire.

Ginger, the cat, kept me company through most of the day. Laura was away at work today, but was able to join us in time for fish and chips at half past six in the evening.

The flame looked magnificent in the darkness, and made judging the atmosphere in the kiln much easier. After adding wood the flame would appear with a smoky reddish orange colour, the flame would grow in size and clarity, then, as the oxygen levels in the kiln increased, the flame would grow pale and turn a blue green colour, and I would know that it was time to add more wood.

I rang our local fire brigade to let them know what I was up to as darkness closed in and the flame became more visible, and..., I'm happy to report that no fire engines turned up and put out the fire!

The firing lasted 12 and a quarter hours, and cones 10 were well down in most of the kiln, with cone 11 absolutely flattened in the hot lowest part, and cone 10 half down up in the arch. I did not fire quite as high as the last firing, as last time some of the copper reds were over cooked and had tended to loose some of their colour due in part to the copper volatilizing away.

As a post script, I thought I would include a photo that I took on Tuesday morning this week. We awoke to snow and black ice. Snow was very thin and patchy around us, but the ice was bad. Dunedin was brought to a virtual standstill for the day, and the road to Dunedin from out here was shut.

Must go to bed!


Pat - Arkansas said...

I do like your night photos! Awesome fire! Glad you had some friends to help with the stoking and sharing of an evening meal. Gingercat is either very large, or your wife is very small. Both are beautiful. :)

Rest well, Peter the Wood-Firer. I look forward to seeing the results.

Arkansas Patti said...

Can't wait to see what comes out. If it weren't for the lack of sleep, that looks like a neat way to enjoy an evening.Friends, spouse, kitty and a roaring fire. Good idea to notify the fire dept.
You do realize that Ginger is now your cat don't you?

Linda Starr said...

Is that your smoke stack in the distance glowing red? Bravo, hope you had a good firing.

Kitty Shepherd said...

What an absolutely wonderful post. I have so enjoyed reading it, and the thought of black ice and snow all around the heart of the fire makes me feel quite home sick. Your words reminds me of Bernard Leach’s account of firing the kiln at Winchcombe Bridge Pottery which I think is in A Potters Book, my copy is old and orange in colour but as it is in storage in England I can’t refer to it. I know it is ESSENTIAL reading for all potters though.
I am going to a pit firing on Tuesday, providing the wind doesn’t get up. It is 40 C here so the fire planes are on alert and we have had to get permission.

Peter said...

Hello there Pat, Patti, Linda, and Kitty, lovely to hear from you all, thanks very much for your comments. Sorry to take a while to respond to comments at the moment, but, as you will realize, it has been rather hectic here with getting things made and fired. Most of yesterday I was totally exhausted, even slept a bit and couldn't face doing much at all...., however, I had to get going later as, at 6.30pm, we had 15 people visit for a pottery demonstration and informal talk. We joined them later for a shared meal, which was really nice and made a relaxing and therapeutic end to the day and the toil that preceded it.
Pat, you are right, Laura is small, and the Ginger cat is..., well, just a tinge portly!

Patti, Ginger may live here 99.9 percent of the time, but his real Mum still loves him and brings him an evening meal here (as he won't go home and socialize with her new dog and her young child). It is an interesting situation, but it has been really nice getting to know our next door neighbour as a result of the Ginger four legged fellow!

Linda..., our smoke stack glowing red in the distance, can you see it from over there?? It certainly made an impressive sight, and I was glad that the fire brigade didn't feel the need to put out the fire!

Ahhh Kitty.., Saint Bernard Leach, a wonderful inspiration to so many. I have my own copy of his orange coloured book, that I bought from a Dunedin second hand book shop. It has a special place on the shelf and in my affections, being one of the first books on pottery that I bought, and being such a fascinating and useful fund of knowledge. I also have Pioneer Pottery, by Michael Cardew, that I purchased second hand at about the same time. Both potters have been a big help in getting me started (even though they will never know it!), and I love the occasional glimpses that I have had of them in video footage through the internet.

Working with wood fired pottery in a fairly isolated place, the "pioneer pottery" label
almost suits what is going on here (although I have not got a rock crusher and other heavy machinery that Michael Cardew style potters probably should have as a badge of office). A rock crusher would be handy though as there are basalt rock outcrops near here that would make good glazing material. I have run previously heated schist rock through my etching press to crush it (Worked well too, with no damage to the press!), but basalt is in a rather different category when it comes to hardness. Good luck with your pit firing Kitty, (throw in a few potatoes!).

rwhendrix said...

Hello Peter. I like your blog very much. Thank you for sharing so much information with us all. I am new to this kiln stuff but have noticed the same as you say about watching the flames from the chimney at nite. It can reveal alot about the fuel ratio to oxygen in the firebox.

Peter said...

Hello Richard,
Thank you for visiting my site and for your comment. It was a real pleasure to hop across to your site and to see what you are up to with your fired clay bricks, kilns, and wood fired boilers. Best Wishes, P.