Friday, November 6, 2009

Kiln Intimacy



Phil coats the floor of the kiln with 'kiln wash.'


Anticipation replaced apprehensiveness today as Phillip Pollet and I spent the day preparing pots and kiln shelves and posts, applying a coat of alumina hydroxide/kaolin to the shelves and posts and kiln floor to protect from glazes and the caustic ingredients of wood combustion. Tomorrow, I'll glaze the rest of my pots and start loading the kiln.

I stood at the mouth of my kiln, peering inside - as I've done many times in the past weeks - envisioning the flame swirling around pots. I felt something beyond a sense of accomplishment, something more akin to entitlement - permission from the kiln gods to proceed. It's hard to put into words, but there's something very personal about building a kiln brick by brick, preparing stacks of wood with which to fire it - a sense of intimacy with the materials.

I went over David Steumpfle's to borrow a propane burner today and saw the progress on his wood-fired kiln. It's a beauty. Curvaceous.

Andres Allik, potter and kiln builder from Estonia, was busy slicing through a large refractory block with a wet saw. He picked up the block to bring it to the chimney area of David's kiln, and I told him the kiln is beautiful. He smiled.

"I said to Nancy (David's wife) this morning, 'I think David has a new girlfriend,'" he said.

David stands inside his new kiln. The holes on the right are for 'side stoking.'


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