Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Better Safe than Sorry

Kiln vent blower, respirator, safety glasses, ear protection.

Methyl Bromide? hmmmmmmm.

I posted yesterday about cutting up some pieces of pallets that I received from a local pallet recycler, and in trying to figure out where the wood comes from and what type of wood it is, I learned that some of the pallets I'm dealing with may have been treated with methyl bromide - a highly toxic chemical used to fumigate for bugs.

Pictured at left is a mark that is on many of the pieces of pallets that I'm dealing with. PK represents Pakistan. What I thought was HB might just be MB, which stands for methyl bromide.

Pictured on the right is a similar mark that I found online, and below is the explanation for the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) mark.

XX - indicates a two letter ISO country code.

0000 - the next series of letters/numbers is the unique identification mark of the wood treatment agent or packaging manufacturer. The number of letters or digits may vary according to each country.

The country code and treatment agent or manufacturer code must be separated by a hyphen.

YY - This indicates the type of treatment, and will either be HT (Heat Treatment) or MB (Methyl Bromide).

The marking 'DB' (indicating debarking has taken place) is no longer used. However, as pallets may last several years, the older style of ISPM15 marking is still permissible.

So, I'm trying to figure out if it's safe to use these pallet pieces to cut and burn in my wood-fired kiln. I've found some online posts in firewood forums saying to stay away from it as a fuel source, or at least where gloves and a mask when handling and cutting this wood. I've found a similar post where someone says the wood is only fumigated, not impregnated with a chemical, so it should be okay.

I know there's a pallet-burning kiln at the Energy Exchange near Black Mountain, NC. I wonder if anyone there has knowledge or experience in dealing with methyl bromide treated pallets.

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Quick' Canopy for Cutting Wood

Cutting wood in my Quikshade canopy

Yikes, it was a scorcher today. I got hold of some great pallet wood today and spent most of the afternoon cutting lengths of some kind of very hard wood into two pieces. I've used this wood before for firing my wood kiln. My source says it's from Israel I think. I can't remember. I'd love to know what kind of wood it is. Some of the pieces are very dense and heavy. Picture at right shows a stamp, PK-001 HB and some kind of symbol possibly.

Anyway, I don't have a sheltered area to cut wood, so I set up my Quikshade canopy and made myself a work station. I set up a fan to keep the sweat to a minimum, but it also served to keep the sawdust from blowing into my face. The chop saw I use is very old has no bag to catch the sawdust. I tried buying a bag, but it didn't work. The sawdust just clogged up.

Levi is currently making soul pots for both electric firing and wood firing. We have some of his larger pieces that we want to fire in the next wood kiln load, but we need some smaller pieces to load around them.

We'll be firing sometime this month. Keep in touch.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Slideshow of Pots from Wood Kiln

Hope to see you at the Pottery Fair on the Square at Old Salem tomorrow (Saturday, May 21, 10-5).


The wood kiln is unloaded, and while we got some fantastic orange-red shinos, we also got some fantastic bloating on some pieces - more than I've ever gotten in a load. Click on the picture below and you can see some of my boats, caused by gases expanding in the clay body and not being able to escape. Could be we overfired the clay. Could be we reduced (lack of oxygen) too early.

Much of the bloating is in my local clay, but this is the first time we've seen it in a clay we buy from STARworks, Okeeweemee 10 (a darker local clay mix). Most of the bloating in the STARworks clay occurred in the front of the kiln.

We reached cone 10 in the back of the kiln, the highest we've gotten the back of the kiln so far.

I'll be taking some individual shots today as I clean up the pots, and share them on the blog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Teaser

A quick peak after taking some bricks out of the front
of the kiln shows the three large bowls up top. I hope
some of you will make it to Winston-Salem Saturday for
Pottery Fair on the Square at Old Salem, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sneak Peek

We fired our Manabigama wood kiln Tuesday, and it was a great firing with cloudy, slightly windy weather and a full moon. I glazed quite a few pieces with a salt shino, and from the first peek into the kiln, everything looks great. The firing took 13 1/2 hours.

We'll unload tomorrow afternoon, and then we'll be packing up for a show in Winston Salem - Pottery Fair on the Square - on the grounds of Old Salem. Nearly 30 potters are exhibiting in Old Salem Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Click on the link for a list of the potters.

I'll try to get some pictures up tomorrow. I'm more excited than usual to get this firing unloaded as I've got quite a few larger soul pots and bowls and a lot of shino glazed pots. Shino glazes are extremely sensitive to the atmospheric conditions in a wood kiln.

Bottom of front stack. The tree casserole got some nice
ash. Mugs on right are shino glazed. Mug on left is my
mustard brown glaze using local clay and gerstley borate.

Shino glazed soul pot and mugs on the next shelf up
and a large serving bowl with tree motif above that.

Pyrometric cones inside the kiln bend to indicate the
temperature inside the kiln. This picture was taken through
a passive damper at the back of the kiln close to the end of
the firing, when temperatures are well above 2,000 degrees F.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pottery Tour Tapenade

Olive tapenade in a wood-fired shino-glazed bowl

Claire Ruggles, director for the Northern Moore Family Resource Center in Robbins, made several delicious recipes including this tapenade which was served to participants in this past Sunday's pottery tour, a fundraiser for the center. The dish was delicious, as was the pesto cheese loaf she made.

I demonstrated making my large tree platters and Levi showed everyone how he carves trees through a white slip into the dark clay body on some of his vases. It was a great afternoon.

Ted, our resident turtle, even came out to see what all the fuss was about. You can see him in the lower right corner of the picture at the right.

Also in the picture are my brother and his daughter who graduated from Duke law school this weekend. It was a busy weekend.

We ended the day by eating some fantastic pizza made by Levi, which included an olive tapenade topped pizza. It was a great weekend. Thanks to all the volunteers that helped out with the pottery tour. Six other pottery shops participated in this year's fundraiser.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Week in Review

Hello everyone. Sorry I haven't been in touch lately. I am fighting a cold right now, but we've been busy. Here's a few pictures of what we've been up to this past week:

Levi is working on a special order for two
rain barrels for a customer.

Here's five pieces that I made from my local clay
for the next wood firing. Trees were carved through
a flashing slip.

A participant of the Arts Festival of Historic Rosedale
in Charlotte this past Saturday shaves a part to a
handmade chair he works on. We had a good show,
selling lots of soul pots, wood-fired tree vases
and other items.