Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kiln down

It seems strange now that the kiln is on the floor of where I stacked so many pots. The walls on both sides still stood after I pulled out the whole front, firebox side , out with the tractor. Maria had done such a good job of clearing out the pile of broken and salt covered brick, scattered over the area that we stood on to feed the appetite of the beast. The roof, insulation layer of the kiln was still hanging across the width of the kiln. I just hit it with my hammer once and it completely fell this time, filling the area with dust and more broken pieces, rebar, concrete and lots of fiber blanket. The dust was thick at first and took a few minutes to clear. I went back down to the lower part of the kiln and I could see well up into the woods behind the kiln, which before was blocked by the kiln.
Last evening I had sat and drew up the plans for the new kiln and try to estimate how many brick it will take to build this anagama. I have considered a Norigama, but the ideal of just a single chambered kiln makes more sense to me.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I opened and unloaded the kiln on Sunday, results are fairly predictable. A couple of new colors came out very nicely and some problems appeared with the slip under the glaze, crawling, especially with the Temple white. When I layer a second color on top of the #6 Tile slip and another color, it will crawl back, exposing the color. I haven't worked with a lot of reduction glazes since '87 and some things come back quickly and others not so well remembered.
This was my first kiln load with an amount of work from my changing the way I throw a piece of work. Basicly, I'm slowing the wheel, to imitate the motion or speed of a kick wheel, and pulling the clay as fast as I normally would throw. Using ribs rather my finger tips. The results have been delightful, with work showing a freshness and qualities that I have tried to do over the years, without much success. The process makes me focus on each step of the throw, concentrating on the foot, the wall as it is pulled and forced into place, and the lip, it's finished shape.
If you have not seen the Hamada and Cardew film on YouTube, Do a search and watch the two different approaches to throwing. These are wonderful documentations of Masters at work. I have learned so much from just watching the techniques and skill that are used with each potter.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring is about on us and I've brought out my shorts. Some trees are starting to bloom and the cherry blossoms will be coming on fairly soon. Chase, my oldest son, Laura, wife and Shelby (pictured) are stationed in Japan (a little south of Tokyo) and he said the blooms are in full and it is warming up nicely. I am hoping that I will get to go over there, cause there is a lot I want to see and do, especially going to Kyoto, where the big kilns are located.
It has been almost a year since my wood kiln chimney fell in, and I have cleaned up the stack area and laying out where my new kiln will be built. I have been gathering brick for the pass two years from several different spots. My wife Maria had located two large pallets of odd brick for a barrel shaped kiln that are used at the plant where she works. I will have to tear the old kiln completely down and clean up before I can pour the footers.
I am looking at a two chambered kiln with an exterior firebox, so I can reduce the ash that is deposited on the work. The Will Ruggles design (I have now) was just a bit too much ash and my drawings just disappeared under the ash. It was a very good kiln to work with and learn on, but I need a larger and cleaner firing kiln. I'm considering the first chamber as a car kiln sprung arch ( I need to think about this a bit, not much information available) and the second chamber be a salt/soda chamber. There is another potter, Bandana Pottery, that has built a single chambered anagama kiln that is as large as a small house and can be fired in less than 24 hour. Take a look at it on michael and Naomi's web site: .
I am glazing and loading my gas kiln, it has taken me longer to load than usual, I guess that I am taking longer to design and draw the image on each piece, but I hope to finish today and fire it tomorrow. Have a good one today, make good pots.