Category Archives: tools

It’s Official

The kiln is finished. Yep, you heard right. Done. I can hardly believe it myself.

Cleaning up the front area and getting the concrete in was the last job, and it is done. Now, working on the kiln will consist of playing with the flue dimensions and firing it, something I am looking forward to, and have started getting work ready for the  upcoming October firing.

I pulled the forms off this morning and cleaned up the concrete. The sump form had collapsed under the weight of the concrete, so I didn’t get the nice oval I was aiming for, and I had to go in with a hammer drill and concrete bit to clean out some of the concrete that had encroached into the sump area. It was still not quite cured, so not too difficult to break up.

Though I imagine water will still rise in the mouth of the kiln, it won’t be dirty runoff, and the walls of the stoking area will not be eroding every time we get rain. Once I get my hands on an automatic sump pump, I’ll be able to cover the sump and forget about it. Yay!

Actually, looking at the front area again, if we could think of a way to create a waterproof wall across the front of the kiln, we could have the first kiln heated jacuzzi. In fact, we could probably ‘soak and stoke’, relaxing in the hot tub while simultaneously firing the kiln to cone 13.

We Have Concrete!

The concrete truck delivered 1.6 yards of concrete today, and it was a happy thing. I think this will finally solve  most of the flooding problem when the heavy rains come, though the water will still probably come up from underneath. So, the sump was left in, and an automated pump will be installed. Best of all, no more muddy mess when firing the kiln!

The truck came at 8:30 and we finished up just before 11:00. The forms held up well with just one shifting a bit. The biggest problem was the sump form which started to crumple from the weight. It all turned out ok in the end, though. Just out of paranoia, I put a layer of ceramic fiber between the slab and the front wall of the kiln to insulate the slab. Also, there is a tube installed so the pump hose and plug will be out of sight for the most part.

There was some crete left over, so I was able to put in a bit of  a walkway/work area out the door of the studio. This previously had a step down, which made it very difficult to roll heavy objects like my lathe stand, etc… in and out of the door. Now the step has been eliminated, and a small work area created between the kiln and the studio.

Before and after pics:


How do you know your kiln is a luxury model? When you built it/had it built, did you really think of everything? How do you know that you have THE KILN that shows everyone you are a winner? a behemoth in the clay world? a demigod of ceramic art? Why, cup-holders, of course.

Earth Oven Update

The pizza oven is finally finished! Not quite dry yet, but that will happen. The last bit of work involves uncovering the oven, letting it dry out, and paddling it to compress the clay. This helps keep the cracks smaller and the clay to be more dense (better heat retention, less insulating).

Before firing it the first time, we will use a scraper and brush on the floor to get the little bumps and grit knocked off, then it will be good to go…

Will keep you posted on how the oven holds up over the next few years.

The finished oven

The Kinky Kiln

Well, I wasn’t expecting this to happen, but the pizza kiln has turned into a fetish kiln, at least for the time being. Actually, budget fetish, since I couldn’t afford a nice black latex wrap…

Here’s what happened: We finally got the end of rainy season, and have been out working in the yard, finishing up various projects. I saw rain in the forecast for the next few days and decided to get the kiln finished and covered. Oh, and also the big pile of cob I have under the double tarp is starting to get stiffer from the sun, in spite of the good covering.

After digging into the pile of cob I found out that only the very top is getting stiffer, but I had started the job and decided to get something accomplished. After laying in the first 30cm or so, everything started to sag and the more I pushed it up, the more it would sag back down. Pretty soft.  Well, I remembered I have a left over roll of plastic used to wrap palettes to keep the stacks from falling apart when the forklift manhandles them. So, I wrapped up the kiln starting with the base and working my way up over the cob. It really worked like a charm, and I was even able to push the material up and have it stay there, because the wrap is under quite a bit of tension. It is not very strong though, so what you see in the pictures is about 7 layers of wrap over the cob. Quite strong in layers.

I expect that the brick will absorb some water from the cob, and the summer heat will help some of that water out of the mix, making it stiff enough to start paddling  in the next few days. If we paddle everything and get it nice and compressed over the course of the next few weeks, the worst of the cracking can be avoided. All that is left after that is to decide whether to leave it a simple dome, or add some sort of decorative motif. Oh, and bake pizza and bread.

Pictures from the latest firing

Below are some pictures from the latest firing (of the gas kiln). There were a few nice pots in the firing, enough to fill in the gaps with the show next week. Lost most of the chawan and guinomi, but got a couple of each that I like.

Chosen Garatsu (the runny white over brown) constantly reminds me that I need more practice. Just when I think I’ve got it down, it shows me just how much I don’t know.