Category Archives: tools


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.

Rain, rain, GO AWAY…. REALLY!

It has been raining cats and dogs since this morning, and we must have gotten about 8 inches in as many hours. Unreal. It is the first time the water has risen in my kiln to a level that would affect pots if they were loaded into the first chamber. In the past it has always stopped short of the front floor but today it was a couple of inches deep in the front floor area.

At least I had good weather yesterday and into early this morning for firing the gas kiln. Turned off the kiln at around 5 am (fired for 18 hours) and when I woke up at 6, it was pouring. Later in the day, I peeked into the kiln when it was still around 700C. Snapped a couple of pictures, with and w/o the flash. The first glance doesn’t look too good. Ame yu was a bit too thin, I think, but won’t know for sure until I open the kiln up completely and have a good look. One thing I am happy about is that the new clay blend I was testing seems to have stayed together nicely, no bad slumping (a little slumping, I like).

Some new teapots

Here are a couple of the shiboridashi teapots from the second firing, cleaned up with their knobs attached. The knobs are solid silver, polished and fumed to give a muted color that matches with the clay nicely. These are pretty small pots, holding about 120ml of water, mainly used for very nice sencha or gyokurocha.  The first knob is a stylized version of a Ganoderma Lucidum fungi, or ‘Reishi’ in Japanese. The second is a realistic rendering of the same. I am personally very happy with how these pots came together. The test will be at the show next month and the big question is: will they sell?