Saturday, May 6, 2017

Unloading the wood fired kiln.

 Opening the kiln after its redesign, rebuild, and first firing was always going to be quite a moment. The kiln had got to temperature, but the firing had been far more rapid than anticipated, and I had no idea what effect this would have on the glazes or on the clay. There was a chance that everything would be very bland and clean looking, but my first glimpse into the kiln revealed some very toasty looking pots that were clearly wood fired, so I was delighted!

 Laura was caught between listening out for people coming into our gallery, and having a look at the pots coming out of the kiln. I think the kiln won!

 There are two main stacks of shelves in the kiln, these ones are 18 x 12 inches, and the ones at the back are 18 x 14 inches. There is an additional small shelf over the firebox.

 This is the middle of the front stack of shelves. Cones 7 through to 10 are visible, and a close inspection will show cone 10 is just starting to bend. (The cones are the white wormy looking things that left of centre in the lower part of the photo. The cones are numbered and are formulated out of ceramic materials and bend over when they reach their designed temperature. You can only use them once.)

 The back stack of shelves.

 And a sculptural piece and goblet that I tucked around the corner on a small shelf that is above the fire box.

 The top shelf.
 This was the pick of the pots on the top shelf. It has a shino glaze, and is made from Southstone, the iron rich, rather sandy stoneware clay that is now unobtainable due to Southern Clays sadly closing its doors earlier this year.

 Some copper reds worked, others failed in amusing ways! The bowl front right has a strange green interior from half way down, but the rest has turned copper red. The mid brown coloured larger bowl in the middle was in a glaze that used to give me lovely rutile blues in my previous kiln! It is all a question of time, temperature, and atmosphere!

 The heat from the fire in this kiln enters the chamber in the far left-hand corner, then makes its way diagonally through the setting to a flue that runs under the two stacks of kiln shelves. In this photo the front stack of shelves is removed so you get a little glimpse of the flue way.

All the work shown here was on the front shelves and the small one over the fire box.

Some more from the lower shelves of the front stack. The very bottom shelf reached just over cone 7, so some bowls were under fired. I was interested to see that the shino had still worked at that temperature, as had one of the copper reds, that was actually better there than at its designed temperature of cone 9.

Ah, yes... the sculptural pot again. Quite excited about that one.

It was getting too late in the day to take more photos, the sun had almost set and we had to take the pots indoors. I hope to take some more today of individual pots when the sun comes up again (I started writing this at about 4 in the morning!).

Very happy with the way the kiln performed. It did fire hotter at the top than the bottom, but was fairly even from front to back along the shelves. I hope to be able to even things out a bit more top and bottom by changing the spacing of the shelves, and entirely removing the low bag wall that was there to help direct the flame upward.

I tested 5 clay bodies in this firing, and several new glazes, as well as some of the older ones that worked well in the previous, very different, incarnation of this kiln. Over the next few days I will have a close look at the results and have a good think about what I have got here... and as I do, I'll start making pots for the next firing!


Melissa Rohrer said...

Very exciting, and I see more experimenting in your future! The sculptural pot- is there a glaze on it or is the sheen from wood ash?

Peter said...

Hello Melissa,
Exciting it certainly is. I've just been taking individual photos of some of the pots and it is interesting to see them in daylight. The sculptural pot has a shino glaze on it, but has definitely been affected by the wood ash and being hit by flame fairly directly; any gloss on the glaze comes from that, rather than from the glaze itself. The clay that it is on has quite a lot of iron in it, and has come through the glaze to give it the warm orange colour. I used the same glaze on the goblet that is right beside it in the photo in the kiln, and the one where the pot is outside, but that goblet is made from a white stoneware clay so is more the colour of porridge (in a nice way!).

Caroline Whitehouse said...

Hhi Peter,
Nice to see you are still busy as with your pots and glaze testing..will call in to catch up when I am down your way
Kind regards

Peter said...

Hi Caroline,
How nice to hear from you! It will be good to catch up with you again.

srgb said...

Congratulations Peter.
This seems to be just like old times.
When I saw you in December I couldn't imagine I was going to see this much activity again, but to see such wonderful results pouring out proves me wrong, now remember Peter with this renewed enthusiasm just be careful please you are probably still healing and I wouldn't want to see you out of action again, I know its better to wear out than to rust out but just slow down the process hey.
Most enjoyable postings.
Regards Bob

Peter said...

Good Morning Bob,
Lovely to hear from you. It is nice to be actually producing new work again, although probably not quite at the rapid pace that you suspect. The blog tends to give edited highlights of life and work, and the slower bits in between tend to be left out (which I am sure is a good thing for the readers!). It is exciting to have the wood fired kiln working again after all this time, it makes the firing feel as much a part of the creative process as was the initial forming of the pot on the wheel from soft and sticky clay! Wood firing is also something of an adventure, like sailing a small boat, where you try to work with what ever nature offers (or throws at you), in order to get to your destination!

Anna said...

Hi Peter
wow you must be really pleased with the kiln, the pots all look great. Congratulations!

Peter said...

Hi Anna,
It is great to be firing with wood again, in spite of the labour of preparing wood, there is some magic about the process that makes it all worth while!