Loading, new tools

Well, didn’t quite make the Feb. 29 date for firing the kiln. My wood ash supply ran out and it was hard locating more and getting it tested. Also had the top element go out on my electric kiln, so couldn’t use it for bisquing. Finally got  that stuff done, so was able to mix up glazes and get to glazing/loading. Got the rear setting done this evening. My shipment of cones from Axner came in the nick of time, so here are the new self supporting cones in action. I have decided that I LOVE self supporting cones…

The rear setting done, finally. A total of 115 pots, give or take.

I mentioned that I’d run out of glaze ingredients. Some testing was required to ‘find’ my glazes again.   This glaze is tough because it goes clear if too thin, or is too white and runny if too thick. Also, I’ve been trying to tweak my Madara to more closely resemble that of the old Karatsu pots, circa 1580. Theirs went on thin, but kept its color. A lot of silica, probably. Here are two test tiles with  Madara glazes. They were fired in the tiny test kiln and you can see they went pretty clear, because they were directly in the flame path. The tile on the left is the tweaked version, with more silica/rice straw ash and less mixed wood ash. I think it is pretty close to what I want, and will have more color when not fired in the tiny kiln with that concentrated flame, and gets a slow cool.

two test tiles with variations of Madara Karatsu rice straw ash glaze.

This upcoming firing we will have our first attempt at hikidashi, which means pulling pots at high temp and letting them cool quickly, or quenching them in water or something flammable such as rice hulls, sawdust, etc… This time, all of the hikidashi will be hikidashi guro, or black glazed ware pulled at temp. In the picture of the rear setting above, all of those pots with the red glaze are going to be yanked out. From the side port, a pair of tongs about 1 meter long is just about long enough to get most of the ware. For pulling from the front stoke, tongs are just too short, so I spent some time this afternoon making a new tool. By drilling a hole into the side of the test kiln, I converted it into a simple forge. I took round steel stock and repeatedly heated it and hammered it to flatten the end then used a hammer and chisel to split it lengthwise from the end. A little creative hammering gave me a two pronged fork shape for scooping up bowls and pulling them out the front of the kiln. Can’t wait to give it a try.

New fork tool for pulling pots from the front stoke

2 thoughts on “Loading, new tools”

  1. I have just stumbled upon your blog, and am thouroughly enjoying reading of your work in the studio. I moved to Japan a year and a half ago, and started nursing my fledgling pottery hobby – which has since grown into a mild obsession. Love your glazes that are shown, and look forward to reading more.

  2. Wow, I can’t wait to see your hikidashi pieces. I am dying to try it but I don’t have access to a kiln that I can do it with yet. I love following your progress, it gives me inspiration as well as motivation for my own work. Thank you for sharing.

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