Thursday, September 29, 2011

Successful Firing with Local Clay

This piece was fired next to our side stoking area and got some nice effects from the embers.

We succeeded at keeping our latest firing in the Manabigama kiln away from a lot of reduction, hoping this would help prevent bloating in the clay. We had very minimal bloating, but we did reach nearly cone 12 in the front. We wanted to keep it at cone 10. Most of the clay in the this load is my local clay, high in iron and it tends to bloat at high temperatures and when the kiln has a lot of reduction.

We were very pleased with the results, and look forward to firing more local clay in the wood kiln. It was a slow firing, maintaining a rate of increase of 100 degrees an hour for most of the firing. The kiln didn't seem to want to climb faster than that, even when we tried to.

It was an overcast day, and it's been raining much of this week.

We think we'll continue with the side stoking, but not put a low shelf between the ember bed and the back of the kiln. This seemed to keep the flame from side stoking all going out the bottom exit flues.

More pictures can be viewed at my Facebook page.

Local clay pitcher, natural ash

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Enjoying the Quiet

There's a lot of noise during a wood firing: metal door scraping against brick, the clanging of the metal rake against the metal bracing around the kiln, chunks of wood thudding against the fire grate, popping and crackling of wood exploding in the firebox....

And there are quiet moments. I enjoy both, but I especially enjoy the quiet moments:

5 a.m.

11 p.m.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Firing #19 - Local Clay and Side-stoking

Lots of local clay in this load

Side-stoking area between Alphi (rooster) and
the middle stack

Got up at 5 a.m. today to start the kiln. Levi and I loaded yesterday, adding a small area between two stacks of shelves to accept small sticks loaded from a small hole in the side of the kiln, hoping for some increase of temperature in the back of the kiln and some ember effects on some nearby pots.

We loaded this kiln with mostly local clay - high in iron. I've decided to fire a little lower in temperature for this firing and try to keep away from a reduction atmosphere in the kiln as much as possible. Reduction - lack of air producing heavy smoke (stating it simply) - likes to produce pockets of gas in my local clay.

I better get back out there.

Hope to see you at the R.D. Mahan Turkey Roast and Kiln Opening this Saturday at our place.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Long Day but Successful Day

It was a long day yesterday, getting up at 5 a.m. and heading over to Winston-Salem to set up for the West End Artsfest, a one day juried art show. We had a great day in spite of both Mary and I suffering from cricks in our necks. Our pots won a "Juror's Choice" award, a nice compliment with which to end the day.

Festival Co-chair Kathy Stanley presents award.

Check out the limb from a nearby oak tree
that adorned our booth.

I had to get a shot of a fellow artist (wood carver
Bob Stuart) who was resting his "dogs" after
setting up his booth.

Where's the Energizer Bunny?
We drove past an Asheboro dry cleaner business after
stopping to grab some dinner on the way home. I had
to turn around to snap a picture of our bunny. Energizer
Battery Company has a plant in Asheboro.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Jug, a Mug and a Platter

We've been building up quite a bit of bisqueware here at From The Ground Up, and we just keep on making pots. I've got to fire again soon.

Here's a few pictures of some favorite pieces we're working on:

Tree jug, local clay - for the wood kiln

Simplicity of form and function - a mug, local clay

One of Levi's platters for a cone 6 electric firing

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Checking out another Potter's Kiln

Donna Craven stokes in the shade of her kiln shed as the
afternoon sun beams down from above.

Levi and I took the afternoon off today and visited Donna Craven during her first firing after a recent kiln makeover. Donna wood fires in a cross draft kiln designed for her large pots. She had some trouble with her arch beginning to collapse after a few firings, and she recently hired a welder to squeeze her kiln back into shape with some heavy metal I-beams.

It was interesting and informative to see her kiln in action, and I also wanted to see how the new welding was done, as my kiln seems to be suffering from a similar situation, but to a lesser degree.

Her kiln is similar to my design in ways, but much taller and wider. You can walk into her kiln. I have to squat in my kiln. She has two side-stoking ports on each side of the kiln. I don't have side stoking ports, which allow a potter to stoke smaller sized wood toward the back of the kiln to help even out the temperature in a long kiln. I accept that my kiln fires unevenly, and load it accordingly.

Donna's selling her pots next weekend at the Potters Market Invitational in Charlotte. You can see some of her work at

I shot this pictures of one of her helpers stoking,
through two big pots of Donna's.