Thursday, January 13, 2011
Crystals in the smoke!
I love the little wood fired kiln. It is nice having something that I can fire rapidly and economically, it is possible to learn so much that way. The last firing that I did only took about one and a half wheel barrow loads of wood to fire. Last weekend I fired on Saturday, and then fired again on Sunday. I can fire fast or slowly with the kiln, and can fire quite accurately.
It is very interesting using a wood fired kiln to modify crystalline glazes that have first been fired in the electric kiln.
Getting just the right atmosphere in the kiln to achieve the colour change in the glazes that I am after is a challenge. My first three attempts produced too much carbon, and my next attempt had just a little too much oxygen in the atmosphere. I am making progress though, and feel that I am much closer to understanding the process and getting things right. Some interesting pots have come out of these initial attempts, and the excess carbon has sometimes produced pots with lovely black crystals on pink or gray backgrounds.
In addition to the experiments with the wood fired kiln, I have also continued further with refining what I do in the electric kiln. Some pots, in particular ones that have had two glaze firings, are turning out really well, and are giving me more ideas about my firing schedules. I am doing another electric firing as I write this tonight and the firing will continue through much of tomorrow.
It has been two weeks of hard work, but I have got some ideas flowing along, and it is fun to be firing a wood fired kiln again. One really interesting development from this might be to make some "useful" raku pots. I have been getting some raku-like effects in these firings, and have done it with pots that have been fired to vitrification. The pots would be robust, water proof, and useful. I actually fired 3 small raku glazed test pieces in one of the firings, and reduced the glaze to shiny copper metal...
Anyway, must dash and check the kiln. I'm hoping to get it to a suitable temperature by bed time where I can get 4 hours sleep before having to check it again.
Happy New Year!