Sunday, August 16, 2009

'Manabigama' - my First Wood Kiln

An arch mock up on my kiln pad. Some more of the material
I will be working with is in the background.

After much preoccupation with what kind of wood-fired kiln to build, I finally decided on a small cross draft kiln designed by potters Bill van Gilder (Gapland, Maryland), and John Thies (Thurmont, Maryland). It's called a Manabigama. According to the kiln's designers, "Mana" translates from Japanese as "learning." "Bi" translates as "beautiful" and "gama" means "kiln;" hence, "A beautiful learning kiln."

You can read more about it out here.

It's about four feet wide and 11 feet long and can be fired in as little as eight or nine hours, or fired for an extended firing for different results. It actually is a beautiful little kiln, and I'll be building it within the next month, as I hope to get a firing done for our R.D. Mahan Kiln Opening and Turkey Roast Oct. 3.

Back in January, potters David Steumpfle, Jeffrey Dean and I spent a several days prying, picking up, stacking and sorting a variety of refractory brick and block from a plant that makes non-refractory brick. I'll be building this kiln with the material I have from that recent venture, rather than the material the designers of the kiln used, so the kiln may vary from the original design a bit.

I've got a slab of concrete with six 4x4 braces imbedded into two sides, waiting for me to build a kiln shed. It's right next to the tool shed, which has a bunch of studs and rafters waiting for me to stuff insulation between them.

Back in January, there was quite a bit of work involved
in gathering up all the brick and block at the brick plant.
The attacking briars didn't help either.

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