Monday, June 25, 2012

Figuring out how to Fire Pots in Ireland

I got my hat in Tipperary today

I've got my Irish hat on these days - spending a month here to set up a workspace so I can make a few pots here in Ireland. I've got a 23 by 10-foot metal shed up and we're working on the concrete floor, insulation and electricity. It looks like an electric kiln may not be feasible, as I'd have to run a new service into the building, and that would cost more than $2,000, plus we'd have to pay a monthly service charge, even when we weren't here. So, I'm thinking about finding an old front-loading electric kiln and converting it to gas, or possibly even building a small kiln that could be fired with gas or wood. I was hoping I could get up and running using an electric kiln and be ready to make pots on our next trip in a year's time. So, while the kiln is on hold, I'll be searching Done Deals (an Irish classifieds publication) for a wheel and a slab roller, and getting the shed finished. I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck.

Here's the inside of the shed, ready for final layer of concrete
Putting the final wheelbarrow load of stone into the shed

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Here's the Pots

Results are in. It was quite a successful firing. Lots of nice flashing, ash buildup, a few long drips of colorful ash... and the shino couldn't decide if it was white, orange or brown. Here's some pictures:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quick Firing with longer Soak

I have fired my wood-fired "Manabigama" kiln 24 times, and not until this last firing have I succeeded at getting the temperature in the back of the kiln to cone 10 (2,340 F.) or above. I fired this last time holding back just a bit to keep the kiln from shooting up in temperature "too fast." All pots were bisque fired, and I had nothing in the kiln that was large enough to worry about firing too quickly.

I reached cone 8 (2,277 F.) in the front of the kiln in 5 1/2 hours, three to five hours earlier than usual. This quick firing allowed me some extra time to soak the kiln at or near peak temperature (in the front of the kiln). I normally have fired this kiln to cone 10 (2,340 F.) and then continued to fire heavy stokes for another four hours, until the back reaches cone 8 or 9, the front reaching temperatures beyond cone 13 or 14.

Yesterday, I fired to cone 11 in the front (seven hours) and continued to stoke for another seven hours, stoking moderately to heavy, keeping the front of the kiln from rising in temperature too much.

As far as I can tell, I reached cone 13 or 14 in the front and cone 11 in the back.

One additional change I made in this firing is stacking the back shelves away from the back wall farther than usual. I moved the back shelves four or five inches farther away from the wall this time.

A few quick peeks through the passive dampers in the chimney today revealed more color than usual on pots in the back glazed in a shino glaze.

We'll see what the rest looks like tomorrow (or maybe tonight if I decide to peek in through the firebox).

Cone 10 is nearly flat in back.

Some blushes of white on shino

Chelsea's bird (Little Loafer's Glory cone 6 clay)

Chelsea stoking

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Firing 24

My daughter Chelsea and I loaded the wood-fired kiln today, and Mary and I will start the firing at around 6:30 a.m. tomorrow. I stacked the shelves in the rear of the kiln about five inches further from the back of the kiln than usual, hoping for a higher temperature this firing at the back set of shelves. Here's how we stacked the shelves this time:
The front stack: darker pots are slipped with Ohio clay.
This is the rear stack. I forgot to take the picture before starting next stack.
Here's the next stack. Chelsea has her little birds for her jewelry at base of jars.
Here's the stack right behind the front stack. Bowls are special order for an meditation altar.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Not Making another Sink

I've been working on a new shape for a couple of sinks for a client. It's a wide bowl with a small foot underneath. I decided to use some plaster forms with which I create my tree platters. I flip a slab of clay into the large form and add a coil of clay to build the walls. On this particular piece, I marked a line inside the base and meant to place the coil on the inside of the mark. However, I placed it outside the mark, so the piece ended up being to big. So, I made something else with it. What do you think? Mary says it would make a wonderful baptismal font.

The clay used is a cone 6 porcelain from Highwater Clays, P5 I think they call it.

Here's a series of photographs showing how I made this:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Some Pieces for the Next Firing

I feel like I've been a bit stingy with blogging, so I want to share some pieces I've been working on for the next wood firing, which may take place in the next couple of weeks if I can make it work.

Mary and I are headed to Ireland for a month June 19. My daughter and our neighbor Susan will be watching the shop while we're away.

Large soul pot with tree limbs (white flashing slip)
Tree bowl
Tree jug
Large lidded jar with tree branch and bird (Ohio clay slip)

I got a little carried away on this one.

Thanks for looking. Hope to see you soon.