Category Archives: wood kiln

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.

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?










The Final Coat

The mud that I ordered came on Monday, and even though the kiln is still warm, I’ve started applying it. Actually, it really helps it harden faster and stay in place. It will crack pretty badly but it would anyway, and I plan to go back later and fill in cracks and joints later anyway. What you see here is one ton of cob, which is composed of unrefined red mountain clay, decomposed granite sand, and straw. I don’t know the proportions, but it shrinks about 3% from wet to dry.

Now that the first ton is used up, I need to order one more, and that should be enough to finish the job, then have leftovers for crack mending and a finishing coat, plus enough to insulate the new pizza oven that we are building from leftover kiln bricks.

While working this morning my twisted mind came up with this, you may be familiar with a slightly different version:

“I held the spade in trembling hands
Prepared to slap it on but just then the phone rang
I never had the nerve to add the final….    coat. “

I know, really bad…. Sorry.

Loading it up…

I started loading the kiln on Sunday, but didn’t get very far. By Monday evening the rear setting was finally finished. For some reason the rear setting is time consuming. Today (tues) I started the middle setting and got it about half finished in 2 hours.

Here is the rear setting going in:
Fairly low temp glazes at the bottom rear. That rear bag wall has holes along the bottom for a bit of flow, but I want to see what I get there as far as temp and reduction with limited flow. Most of the rear setting stuff will mature at Orton cone 6-8.

 The plates on the floor should get nice and covered in embers. The top left, behind the beer mugs, has another large jar that is not very visible in the picture.

It rained all night monday night and this is what greeted me in the morning:
The water missed the mattress by about one cm. To get an idea of the depth, look on the left side and you can see the shovel handle.

 There is a black spot on the blue mattress and if you look closely you can see it is a frog. Unfortunately, he is dead. One of the neighborhood cats has taken to having his midnight snacks in my kiln. I wish he/she would clean up after eating…

 All pumped out now, but with the continuing rain, I have to turn on the pump frequently. I leave my sandals in front of the kiln when I go in and load. If I don’t pay attention I could get stranded in the kiln and my shoes would be floating around in that front area. So, I load pots and glance back now and then to check the water level, plugging the pump in when it gets too high. I REALLY need one of those automatic sump pumps so I don’t have to keep switching it on and off manually. The water made it into the firebox Monday night, but not up onto the front floor of the kiln yet. We’ll see if it gets any higher by tomorrow (Wed) morning.

We are expecting rain through Thursday, so I’m a little worried about finishing the front setting on Wed evening, then waking up Thur morning to find all the pots sitting in and inch of water.

Even with the front area pumped out, the wind has been blowing the rain in, making it difficult to load the kiln. I nailed up a tarp to cover the entrance area. Later in the year, I’ll extend the roof properly to keep things dry.

One last item of interest: The company that manufactures Seger cones (Japan uses Seger cones rather than Orton) was in Fukushima, and was apparently seriously affected by the recent disaster. Consequently, Seger cone prices have tripled. They were 200 yen (about $2) each to begin with, but can you imagine paying $6 for a cone?! I had trouble shelling out $2, so I switched to Orton a couple years back. It is still WAY cheaper to pay shipping on Orton cones from America than pay for Seger cones here, even when they were practically a steal at $2 each.