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Going through the roof

Well, 3 more rows or so will put me through the roof, so I started measuring while I still had room to move around. Used a plumb line to make marks, and cut the roofing with a circular saw from the topside. Thought it made a nice square of light peeking through. Sorry for the graininess, it was pretty dark.

Also, with the new kiln, I’ve started feeling restless about the way the workshop was configured and decided to make some changes, open things up a bit. Hopefully this will give me extra room to move and make more pots.

Three things to see in the pics below: first, the cool speakers a friend of mine made. He makes all sorts of speakers for fun, and decided to get rid of some to make room for newer ones. They sound great, but I’m going to have him come by to help me with proper placement to get the most out of them.

Second, I removed much of the shelf behind the wheel and moved the wheel back toward the wall. This also gave me room to put in Tsuruta Sensei’s wheel. I’m holding on to it while he moves into a new house and studio. I’m hoping that by having his wheel there, the faeries will come and make pots like they did for him. I have a running joke with him: whenever I go visit him in the afternoon, his place is full of greenware, waiting to be glazed or bisqued, but I never see him working, just chatting and drinking tea. So I jokingly commented one day that he must have a couple of faeries come in the night and make all the pots ala Grimm’s The Elves and the Shoemaker.

Last thing to note is the track lighting. Ever since I put in the kiln cover, the workshop has been dark as a cave. At night, it is murder on the eyes to work, because the light is so directional and dim. These track lights light up both wheels very nicely and they are bright. Right now they are just temporary, plugged into a power strip. After the kiln is finished and fired and things have settled down a bit, I will rewire the shop and they will be controlled from wall switches at the doorway.

Gee, I wonder what kinds of pots those elves will have ready for me in the morning….

The Stack Gets Taller

It is slow going, but the stack is getting taller. Because the blocks are so large, it will get more difficult soon, because it will involve going up and down ladders. A few more courses, and the hole will need to be cut into the cover.

From what I finished today, it is now just about at the level of my head. The first picture shows the first ‘tier’, which means one course of large blocks with one course of medium blocks. They will be stacked in this order to the top, a total of 10 ‘tiers’. The medium blocks leave a space on either side which needs filling with something, in this case insulating fire brick because they are far easier to cut and shape than the hard bricks.

 Here is the stack 3 tiers high, and already more than 6 feet high. 10 tiers should bring the height to just under 5 meters.  I use a piece of plastic strap to keep the highest large block row tensioned while I add the row on top. This keeps the blocks from shifting while I position the top row.

Anyway, it’s not the prettiest stack, but is kind of fun when you think about how all those blocks interlock.  So far at least it seems very stable. As soon as the roof hole is cut, I will put on the angle iron frame, so stacking should get easier.

2nd Chamber Doorway Finished

Completed the wall and doorway/arch for the second chamber today. Just need to stuff a little castable or soft brick in some holes at the corners and it’ll be done. I misjudged the center of the main arch when centering the doorway, so it ended up slightly, about an inch, too far to the left. Not really a problem per se, just an aesthetic point, but not enough of one for me to tear it all down and start over.

Floor Finished

Worked on filling the voids in the floor, and strengthening the foundation under the primary air today.

Here is the finished floor with all the voids in the shelves filled with hard castable, as well as everything around the edges. The upper tiers of the first chamber are filled with insulating rather than hard castable. Just a little experiment to see how it holds up.

The bricks at the front of the firebox were loose, because we hadn’t brought the foundation that extra half brick out in the center. Fixed that with some more hard castable and a leftover piece of castable slab that was laying around. Also laid a PVC pipe underneath the slab and poured the castable around it, even if the heat of the kiln melts the PVC, a castable pipe will remain for water to drain into the sump from the front of the firebox.

I wadded up a pair of cloth gloves in the kiln end of the pipe, to keep the castable from plugging the pipe. I tied a string to the gloves so they can be removed later, hence the pink string in the picture. The sump will be enlarged and lined, and an automatic sump pump with floats will be installed, ensuring that the firebox will never flood during heavy rains.

Laying out the floor

Finished laying out the floor today. Old kiln shelves for firing roof tiles. Set them in blobs of fireclay to level them out. Tomorrow, will go back in and fill all the voids with refractory castable mixed with rice hulls. This way the under floor of insulating castable is protected from wear and tear, and if a shelf cracks or breaks, it is easy to pull up and replace.

The grate bars are shelves as well, with center connection portion removed. These bars slide right into place at floor level. If one breaks, it can be easily removed and replaced. Still have about 45 of these shelves, so enough grate bars for a while.

Workshop in Taku 2010

Well, the kiln building workshop finally came, after so many months of prep, and went way too quickly. It was great fun, with a total of 9 wonderful people from the US, Canada, and Hong Kong.

Here is what we built:

The chimney still needs to be finished (a big job), and the front wall of the second chamber (a small job), I’ll keep pictures coming as I progress. If all goes well, the first firing should happen at the middle or end of November.

Will be out cleaning up the area for the next few days. Didn’t notice it at all during the workshop with all of the activity, but with everyone now gone, the mess of brick pieces, empty castable bags, brick bundle straps, wood scraps, etc… really stands out.

On the upside, it looks like once everything is done, there will be no more palettes of brick laying around the yard! On the downside, this big monster sucked up so much brick that I have just enough to finish the kiln but not enough to make doors. There is a lot of castable left over however, so I will try casting the doors in pieces and firing them in the gas kiln. Same for all the stoke hole covers.

Here is an evening shot of the grate bars: