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Rear finished

Finished loading the rear of the first chamber today and will start on the middle and front tomorrow. It will be nice using the 8mm thin 35x37cm shelves after hefting those thick monsters up in that narrow rear space. That rear stack is 78cm from front to back.
 There are about 110 pots in the rear of the kiln. Could have fit many more, but I want to make sure that the flame gets around and not try anything daring until I have a few more firings under my belt. Some pots are staggered front to back, some are in straight rows, because I want to see if there is any difference in the outcome.

Just for kicks, there are 3 guinomi placed at the front of the stack at the base, just a few cm from where wood will be dropping in. If I can manage not to hit them, they might end up looking interesting. They are 3 different clays, for comparison.

Though I’d planned to pretty much ignore the second chamber for this first firing, it is looking like there will be enough pots to at least partially fill it. So, the second chamber will be getting loaded with low temp (about cone 6) work: feldspar glazes, a celadon-ish clear, white slip, and iron underglaze deco.

For all the stacking, I’m taking very careful notes about what is going where, knowing by now that no matter how sure I am that I will remember, after a week or so I never do.

Must not forget to place the cone packs before starting the middle section…

Loading starting….

Loading has started.

 Spit is very convenient stuff.

 These are the feet for the roof tile kiln shelves that I’m using in the rear.


 The floor layer, grey ones glazed with half and half clay and ash. Red ones are 1/2 clay, 1/4 ash, 1/4 spar. Red ochre added to taste.

 Getting those shelves up and back there is fun with back pain.

 2nd layer. More of the half and half glaze. Also some madara glaze. I’m experimenting with things as far a stacking pattern goes, see what works and what doesn’t. Bottom layer was more staggered. These shelves have big voids, so upper layers may end up more in a row.

Primary Air and Stoke Hole Covers

Now that the decision has been made to fire, there are all sorts of things that can no longer be ignored, like having stoke hole covers and doors. Unfortunately, it has been rather rainy lately, making the casting of the primary air a bit sketchy, so I reverted to my original plan for the primary air, for now. Later, when it’s dry weather again, I think I’d like to cast it. For now, the air looks like this:

Those are the same shelves I used to line the floor of the kiln and for grate bars, trimmed down to 69cm to fit in the doorway. The supports on either side are left over scrounged hard arch brick slabs, 23x23cm. With 4 or 5 of those shelves spanning the gap, the center support is probably not even necessary, but just in case… 

There are some more left over scrounged bricks that I am thinking about for the door, until I get the castable idea more developed. I’ll play with those tomorrow and post pictures.

I put together a form to make stoke hole covers this morning as well, and so far everything looks good. Here’s the form and slabs after I removed the outside frame, then some slabs shown in place just like how they’ll be during the firing. Everything seems to fit pretty tightly. The slabs are semi light castable, about 7cm thick, and 29x25cm wide. It will be interesting to see if/how well they hold up.

I think that I will bind them with angle iron on two sides vertically, with the angle iron extending a few inches beyond the bottom, so that the slabs will sort of stand on little legs, leaning against the hole. Then they can just be tilted back and forward again during stoking. If the seal ends up being too loose, then some fiber gasket will be cemented to the stoke hole bricks.

Clay review

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t want to use a lot of my regular clay in the first firing, because it would be such a waste, so I got some store bought clay from a place I never tried before. Most of their clays are not much to my liking, but they have this one type, called Karatsu Kishidake, which has turned out to be nice stuff. Of course final judgement will have to wait until the kiln is unloaded, but for ease of throwing and trimming, with the potential for nice chirimen (crepe-like tearing) on the trimmed surfaces, it shows great potential, AND it’s cheap. Here are some pics of the Karatsu Kishidake which was used for some yunomi. (in an aside, I had a wonderful breakthrough making these yunomi. These plain tsutsu yunomi (cylinder shape) have always given me fits for some reason, but I finally figured out the right way of holding the cows tongue rib to make them quickly and best of all, non-wonky.)

2 styles of feet: My preference is the second one below, but that style of foot doesn’t look so good on a plain cylinder shape. Looks much better on an hourglass shape, wide at the hips and shoulders narrowing towards the waist.

Here are a few guinomi that are going in the first firing. Minamihata clay which is somewhat sticky, mixed with 30% pounded sandstone, and 10% Shirakawa Toseki porcelain stone sand from above Arita dam (sieved out of the river). Pinched and trimmed on the kickwheel.

Taking the dive

Well, the die has been cast. I called the few folks with some pots to put in the kiln and told them to bring them because loading will commence next wed.

Rather than worrying about where the kiln will be hot or cold, and glazing accordingly with high and low temp glazes, I’ve decided to just glaze with high temp glazes, and refire the ones that don’t get hot enough first time around. It will also tell me what spots are hot and cool, even where there are no cones.

Still a few things need to be done before firing can happen, like casting the hole covers and the front door, and digging out the hole in front of the kiln further.

Will start the fire on the 15th of this month, then maybe I can unload on Christmas morning. Wouldn’t that be fun…

Odd stuff

I got a request for a ferret food dish, of all things. I tried it two ways, thrown from a ball on the wheel, and thrown in two pieces (inside and outside). The customer wanted a round bowl shape on the interior and a wide base on the exterior for stability. After feeling the weight of these babies, I’m sure no mere ferret will be able to overturn them. Here are the prototypes:

This next piece is an idea I had that I thought I’d give a shot at now that I have a kiln it will fit into. I made a small one first just for kicks, but this one is the real test piece. It is 40cm high and about 53cm in diameter, with no bottom. Can you guess what it will be?