Woodsplitting Heaven

I received 3 full palettes of pine beam cut-offs from a lumberyard and have been splitting them for a couple of days now. They are surprisingly easy to split and nearly all are about the right length for stoking. After my first palette was split, I put up these drying shelves between the posts of the kiln shed, and they are filling up faster than anticipated. I imagine I`ll be building a lot more drying space before long.

At this point I have no idea how much wood it will take to fire the new kiln, which will be built and fired this fall (more info on that here), so I`ll be preparing WAYYYYY more than enough.

I tried to get my neighbor in on the splitting, shouting out `boy this wood splitting sure is fun!` and `gosh, this is so great, what could be more fun than the satisfying sound of a log splitting asunder? I sure don`t know…` Unfortunately however, my neighbor was on to my clever ruse, and my Huck Finn moment was lost before it even began. The fact that he`s always collecting and splitting wood for his wood burning stove might have been the fatal flaw in my otherwise genius plan.

Pseudosexual Ice Cream

Well,I`ve never posted much non clay related stuff to this blog, but when my wife came home from the store the other day with this, I just had to take some pictures. Is it just me, or is this not just the most unintentionally suggestive ice cream you`ve ever seen? My first thought was that this would create quite a scandal in the US.

First, when the kids started eating them, I was reminded of their younger breast feeding years. Little mini ice cream breasts. Kinda cute, actually.

Then you see the back end of the thing with the clip, and you realize that someone has essentially figured out a way to package ice cream in a condom. Ice cream condoms… not as cute, but definitely hilarious.

The little ice cream condoms are actually quite thick and strong, I guess they have to be in order to be stuffed that full and frozen without fear of rupture. The downside is that they are under quite a bit of pressure. You snip the tip to eat the ice cream, and woe to you if it`s not sufficiently frozen, because it will spray everywhere. What images this conjures up I will leave to you.

Anyway, it just goes to show that no matter how long you`ve lived in foreign country, you can still have some interesting culture shock moments. So, I`m going to go out and split some more wood, make pots and get ready for a bisque fire, then I`ll come back inside and curl up on the sofa (in a fetal position) with a nice ice cream booby.

New old kiln III

Here are some photos of the control panel after it was cleaned up. What a difference, without the thick layer of dust.

I have absolutely no idea how the controls on the thing work, by the way. Should be an adventure trying to figure it out.

I decided to pop the cover and see what was inside, and was pleasantly surprised. Looks positively brand spanking new. And best of all, reasonably simple. If anything is broken, it`s likely that it`ll be easier to fix because it`s analog. This is the box labeled `control panel`.

Next is the box labeled `magnetic switch`.

If anyone familiar with this type of analog kiln controller can explain how it works, I`d very much appreciate it.

New old kiln II

Here`s the kiln after I got everything in place and cleaned up. Yep, those lids were actually blue…

Here`s the interior, is it not beautiful? (It`s best if you hear the previous sentence uttered by Fozzie Bear, or perhaps Grover). I know pretty much nothing about electric kilns, but to me those elements look really clean and hardly fired.

The lid is operated by an interesting, simple mechanism wherein as you screw the handle down the lid is lifted by the arm and can be swung away from the top of the kiln. This also allows for nice control of the opening of the top during firing. When I first saw this setup I kind of poo pooed it, but after assembling and trying it out, it seems to really work well.

New old electric kiln

One day about 5 years ago, I noticed a dusty blue metal box behind the shelves of ware containers in my mentor`s kiln room. When I asked what it was he said it was an electric kiln he had been given but never used, and did I want it? Said I could have it for free, because he got it for free, but that it ran on 3 phase 200 volt current.

At the time I didn`t have a studio let alone space for a kiln, or a 200 volt outlet, but it was always on my mind. Now, 5 years later, I have the studio and my new kiln cover for the wood kiln going in this fall, and wouldn`t you know it, a 200 volt outlet on the exterior wall of the studio that was put in for the immediate purpose of running a concrete mixer, but the long term purpose of running that kiln I`d seen years back.

The kiln is for firing Uwa-e, or overglaze enamels and it`s top temp is probably about 900C. It`s going to be a bisque kiln for me, since I bisque at around 750C. Doing a bisque in my propane kiln costs around $50 in propane. Firing this kiln will cost about $4. It will hold only about 1/3 of the gas kiln, but it`s still far cheaper. I figure $12 to $15 as opposed to $50 for the same volume of pots. A couple years of firings should make back the money (around $900) I spent running the 200V to the workshop.

Here`s the kiln after we loaded it up onto the truck. Boy was it heavy…. took 4 full grown grunting macho men to get it up there. To the left are the lids, and the control panel in the foreground.

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