Friday, 16 December 2011

A cold day weaving the arch former

Probably the last real bit of work to be done on the kiln before a short seasonal break. A bleak cold sleaty day to be doing this so plenty of hot tea to keep my fingers warm as I've been tying lots and lots of knots to secure the laths. I'm happy with the overall shape of the arch now, which I'll reinforce with more substantial board arch formers from the inside ready for the brick arch construction.

Each lath is tied to create a good stable structure.

Now starting to get a good idea of the final shape of the stucture. I've also spoken to the wood yard who have about 5 pallets of wood so far and are still cutting, they antisipate having another 2 early in the new year, so after the break I'll organise that to be delivered ready for the first firing. Merry Christmas and a Happy new year :-))

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Another kiln update

I've managed to make quite a bit of progress over the last week. The vertical walls are now at the right height for the arch to spring off and the lower passive damper as well as the middle grate fire mouth are also in place. I'v also put a small side stoke port adjacent to the main fire box. This morning I have positioned the front door arch and removed the former. The rear flues are now all in place and the wall above is ready to receive the back end of the arch. All in all it's starting to feel like a kiln. I just have some fiddly spacer bricks to cut with the angle grinder to finish the last course of bricks as the kiln tapers into the flues and then ready to start making the arch formers. I've added images most recent at the top this time. If you're wondering why a lot of the images seem to be in the dark it's due to me recording progress at the end of each day and at 5pm it's pretty pitch.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Loughborough kiln update

I had a productive week last week being able to spend 2 days pretty much dedicated to working on the kiln. The fire brick floor has been laid lining both fire boxes creating the base from which the vertical walls can be built and the structure can begin to look like a kiln rather than a random pile of building materials. All the measurements and calculations have been made and laid out with respect to the firebox / chamber dimensions / flue and chimney dimensions and this week will be building up the side walls in preparation for the start of the arch.

From this point the walls are started, using a fireclay and water slurry with a little sodium silicate added for spreadability as a bedding motar. This will not cement the bricks together but just even out any uneveness and will also allow the structure to freely expand and contract. Small expansion gaps are also left on every course also to facilitate the kilns movement when heated. The vertical walls are laid stretcher, stretcher, header and then repeated.

The last image shows the progress as of Friday 2nd December, it should now be straight laying for about 5 or 6 rows to reach the wall height from which the arch will spring. I'm documenting the kiln after each days work on it and will try to update this blog with images at the end of each week.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

It's been a while but.........

My online activity has been a little lapse recently but I do have mitigating circumstances :-) I was showing at the CPA Ceramics Fair in Oxford on the last weekend of October and for four weeks prior to that I have been busy teaching  the new intake of students at loughborough Unviversity's School of the Arts. I have also taken down the old anagama kiln there and started rebuilding the new one. I managed to salvage most of the materials from the old kiln. The only parts which were beyond redemption were the hot face firebox bricks and the area around the flues at the back of the kiln. Everything else was put on pallets and transported to the new larger kiln site. Only about 200m away but in a new yard. The stage I am at is just grunt work. Bedding and leveling 160 dense concrete hollows to form the kiln platform  and I have now started to lay the firebrick floor, although i've just run out of fireclay to make the bedding mortar (surpisingly tricky to get hold of in powder form), so i'll be a little delayed waiting for that to arrive. I've been documenting the new build after each day and I've selected a few to post here. As the kiln progresses I'll post updates. I'm hoping to get the kiln finished mid February ready to fire in the spring.

 These are the rough plans which I drew up several years ago when planning. Some of the details of stepping and area dimensions are altering slightly as I lay the blocks and the rear of the kiln will be more like the side elevation image with the back of the chamber tying into the base of the chimney above the exit flues rather than an elongated flue running to the chimney. But you'll get the idea hopefully.

And so, the first blocks!

 This image shows the general lay out of the new kiln. Grated firebox extending deeper into the body of the kiln than in the previous kiln with stacking space around the sides. The 1st level packing will be at the same level as the grate and will allow coals to mingle with the work as well as giving good space for shelf stacking behind. There is then a step up to another shelf stackable area and behind this is the block channel for the side stoke grate and ash pit. behind that will be another small step up and another shelf stackable zone in front of the flues.

This picture is the most recent. Later.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Here we go again.

Well, My stand has been repainted after a bit of water staining from Rufford, pots all sorted and the van is finally packed. Bag is also packed, and a good breakfast shared with my daughter of cheese on toast and eggy bread inside me. Off up to Potfest in the Park at Hutton in the Forest near Penrith in Cumbria this morning. Looking forward to spending four days at this beautiful place showing my pots. Back home on Sunday night and back off down to Art in Clay at Hatfield House next Thursday. It's going to be a busy couple of weeks!! Then off  to the Cornish coast for a spot of kite boarding and some chillaxing :-)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

What's going on?

Well, after a successful Rufford. The van is unpacked again and I've been preparing the stand for Potfest in the Park at Hutton in the Forest, Cumbira. Due to a bit of rain at Rufford I've had to repaint the whole stand and it's now ready to go. I also sent out some fresh work to the SCA gallery in Shrewsbury. Last week I spent a couple of days (aided by Jo Bird and Steve Parry), getting a firings worth of fuel down to the kiln at Wysing Arts Centre. I'm still aiming to fire this kiln in November some time but haven't fixed a date yet. The priority was to get the wood down there, cross stack and cover it all so that it dries. Steve also gave the inside of the kiln a good clean out. Suprisingly the undergrowth wasn't too rampant and the walnut tree that has been growing behin the kiln (from a sapling when we started), is now huge and covered with what promises to be a bumper crop of nuts. We'll have to come up with some recipes for a bit of kiln cooking in the autumn.

We cheated slightly with the hard wood slats. As it was getting late in the day and we didn't fancy hand balling it all round to the other side of the kiln, we constructed a rather ingenious track out of ladders which allowed us to slide the bundles out of the van and stack them on top of each other. These were then covered with tin. The hard wood slats that I use are so dense that even if a bit of rain gets in it won't make a great deal of difference. So onwards to Potfest in the Park followed the following week by Art in Clay at Hatfield House.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Preparation, preparation.

Only a week to go now until the first show of the summer. Earth and Fire at Rufford country park. I always enjoy showing at Rufford, great atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. I've selected the work and the stand has all been painted and made ready. I'm showing predominantly new work over the summer, that which has come out of the last two firings; using my course clay with shino and titanium ash glaze. I've spent the last couple of days stacking  kiln bricks onto palletts ready to move to the new kiln site. I'll start taking down the old kiln at the end of September and hopefully will have the new kiln built and ready to fire by late Spring. In the mean time I've started planning a firing in the Wysing anagama for November. I'll be getting the wood down there for that firing in July some time.

Friday, 20 May 2011

And they all come to life when we're not looking

So, I think the firing went very well. I was able to unbrick the door on Tuesday evening and we unpacked on Wednesday afternoon. Really good, plenty of heat and reduction (even down the side stoke side of the kiln which can be slightly more oxidised). We had very few losses. A couple of pieces which had moved a little and stuck to others but in the grand scheme of things not much really. I've now had a chance to live with the pots for a while and I'm very pleased with the results. The very course clay which I mixed, flashes wonderfully in all parts of the kiln and receives the fly ash well. The shino glaze which had its first anagama testing on a few pieces in the last firing is great beautiful ice whites with pinks and oranges burning through in places. Works really well with the clay body as well. I still have a bit of grinding left to do just to remove the last traces of wadding and then I shall start to put together my stand for Earth and fire at the end of june. My exhibition at the Galanthus gallery ends this weekend so I'll be off down there soon to collect any unsold work. I'll keep updating as my exhibition stand for the summer takes shape. Whooop! Some pics.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Job done!

Well that's it, another firing done. I've got home and had a great hot bath, washed off the grime of 4 days in the yard, all the nervousness and anxiety from the preparation for the firing is gone and it's time to reflect a little on the firing. It went very well I think, and apart from the appearance of a random 29th birthday party at 2am Sunday morning complete with chocolate cake (which was very good), and Steve and I inadvertantly getting involved in a fashion photo shoot this morning, went very smoothly. We had cone 12 (1300 C (ish), over at the back early on Saturday morning with all the front cones over, bar the cone 15 (1420 C (ish). We ended today with just a  bend on the cone 15. The kiln was pretty relentless and didn't leave us much time for rests between stokes but, looking through the door before we clammed it up this afternoon the contents inside looked very glassy with plenty of runs visible. The kiln responded really well throughout the firing to small adjustments that we made. I still have a slight sadness that this was the last firing, as it has been a great litttle kiln, having said this, after we had clammed the kiln up we went to have a look at the new kiln site. I'm looking forward to buiding and firing it.
A big thanks go out to James for his help with stacking the last of the wood stacks, and Deb for a good days side stoking hardwood slats yesterday. We will be opening the kiln on Wednesday afternoon so now three days of speculation and antisipation.

The team:

Steve resting his back and explaining to James how the barrow should be filled

The kiln reducing just after a large stoke:

and a tantilising view of one of my large vases through the flames

Will post the results after the opening.