Category Archives: tools

The First Pots: Chawan and Guinomi

Here are some of the first pots to get cleaned up after the firing last week. I’ll post more over the next few days as I get things cleaned up.

Overall the firing went well, much better than the first two certainly. I’m finally starting to get a grip on how the kiln climbs, and learning not to worry about it too much. We fired both chambers this time and it took roughly 30 hours. Cone 10 flat in front, cone 9 touching in the rear, and cone 13 almost touching in the second chamber. The second chamber is a pleasure to fire, very relaxing after stoking the front. I think I can still get more aggressive with the front, taking the temp up even more, probably somewhere around cone 12 would be good for the rice straw ash glazes.

The intention was to drop cone 6 in the rear and call it quits, but it ended up getting hotter than expected, and the ware in front ended up a little too shiny. However, the middle and rear of the setting came out just about perfectly. Temp from top to bottom was quite even. We stopped stoking the second chamber when cone 11 dropped and clammed everything up after letting some of the excess heat out. Still, when I peeked in the next morning, that second chamber was still glowing, and cone 13 was mostly down. Guess that 1250kg of insulating castable does its job well.

Most of the failures this time around were caused by bad glazing, not the firing. Rice straw ash glazes were universally too thick, and an ash glaze I whipped up hoping to be a nice runny green ended up being a crusty reddish brown. Oops.

First Chamber Loaded

Finally! After seemingly endless days of loading, the front is finished. The large pieces in front are most refires with the exception of the large jar to the right. The big white piece in the middle isn’t a pot, it is a large piece of  Shirakawa Toseki (porcelain stone from the Shirakawa area near Arita dam). The square right behind it is a piece of sandstone that I cut in two and hollowed out to make a box.

The Kiln

On and off I’ve had requests for pictures of the kiln, so here are some selected photos of  it from beginning to completion. Building this kiln was the subject of the first Workshop In Taku, in 2010. The second in the series, Workshop in Taku 2012: The Simple Teabowl, will happen from May 12 – 18, 2012. Full details here:

http://karatsupots.com/workshop2012/2012home.html

 

The series starts not with ‘the kiln’, but  ‘the hole’.

Kiln design and expert workshop guidance by Craig Edwards of Minnesota.

Kiln Loading

The date for the fall firing is official! 2011/11/11. There must be some sort of astrological significance to this, be it good or bad.

Since I’ve been making a lot or work to go into the kiln for this firing, I’ve been constantly short on ware boards, so decided the best way to free some up would be to get the pots off of them by loading them into the kiln. This has the added benefit of breaking up the loading process so it is not so danged exhausting.

This afternoon saw the completion of the rear setting, all cone 6 ware give or take. E-Karatsu, Kawakujira, and Kohiki. Most everything is smaller and doesn’t have much height, so to fill in the higher spaces many of the pots were balanced on kiln posts. The added benefit to this is that if the temperature gets too high, the pots will collapse, invert around the posts and stick to them completely and utterly. Post-In-A-Cup.

The two jars are refires that had a lot of unmelted ash on the shoulders. In order to melt it, I’ve applied an ash glaze that should melt and flux the sintered ash underneath, hopefully. And, if I’m really lucky, they will slump or split in the firing, sticking to everything around them.

Shelf space and more food dishes

With the wood kiln and trying to fill it, there is not nearly enough shelf space (or ware boards) in the studio. My neighbor has a small grove of bamboo up the hill, and gave me permission to cut down a few for building a ware board frame. Here in the pictures it is mostly finished, but still needs about 2 more tiers added higher up.

I moved most of the new pots out here, and it freed up all kinds of space in the studio, but there is still a shortage of ware boards. Cheap plywood is still about $10 per sheet, but it looks like I’ll have to bite the bullet and buy some soon.

The oval dishes are the next run of food dishes. They look really good with Chosen Karatsu glazing, and also with iron brush deco under a feldspar glaze. The clay is a new one I’m experimenting with, bought from a clay specialist, but after trimming these I don’t think I’ll use this again, at least unaltered. Wedging in some sand might perk things up a bit, but the basic clay body is pretty boring by itself. We’ll see, it might have really great color in the wood kiln and that makes up for a lot.

I had a lump of left over sandy clay that I wedged in near the end of the run. From the looks of some of the trimmed feet, I could have done a better job…

Quick Tables II

The other day I posted pics of  a low table I designed for easy breakdown/setup and transport. Here is the tall version of that table. It uses the parts from the low table, the low table top as the high stretcher and the low stretcher as the high table top. 60 x 90cm leg pieces were added from another sheet of plywood.

After assembling, the table is quite stable, though it does rock a bit because of the plywood thickness. In spite of the rocking, it is very hard to unbalance.