Monday, 8 October 2012

Well, it's been a while, as Fairport Convention asked; "who knows where  the time goes"? The leaves are turning and there is a nip in the air which means starting to prepare for the Oxford Ceramics Fair which takes place at the end of this month. It's always a great show and I'm looking forward to going down there, showing my work and catching up with folk. I've also been working hard on a book: Kilns and firing, which I've been asked to write by Bloomsbury due for publication in 2014. Lots of researching words and images. Probably sad but I really enjoy this type of activity, it's in one way completely removed from the processes of making objects but very similar in the way that both objects and words can be crafted. I've also finally started to make work for my next firing which will be in early January. The new kiln is much larger than the last so obviously takes longer to fill etc. I have 8 pallets of wood due to be deliverd at the begining of November. I'm planning to fire the kiln for an extra day this time which is heading back up towards the 5 day firings which I used to do,I'm already starting to get excited about the potentials of that.

These pieces stand about 45cm high and have a black engobe and porcelain slip applied, the plan is to loosly pour a dense crackle shino over them and fire them on the firebox ledges. I'll keep you updated :-) Now off to throw large chargers.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Damper: but not in a wet way

I've spent the last few days taking down the new kiln chimney in order to put a damper in it. Not suprisingly, it's a lot easier to take a chimney down than it is to put it back up again.

And yes...... the sun is casting shadows. Summer!

I've also lowered the chimney by about 6 courses, not due to laziness you understand but I don't think the kiln needs as much draw as the chimney was providing. Hopefully with the combination of a slightly lower chimney + a damper I should be able to have a little more control over the internal atmosphere.

I've also been spending some long overdue time updating the website. Some new pages documenting the building of the kiln and of some of the work that came out of the first firing as well as a bit of a general tidy up.

I should be getting the wood for the next firing in September and will start making next week.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Great show, if a little bit boggy :-o

It was great to be showing at 'Art in Clay', at Hatfield House over the weekend, and good to catch up with folks and meet new makers, collectors and enthusiasts. The above picture was taken on the Saturday when the weather was on and off (in this picture off but imminently on or the other way around depending on your view :-). Warwickshire open studios this weekend and then back to start the modifications on the new anagama chimney.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ready for Art in Clay

I've been dodging the showers this afternooon packing the van ready to head down to Art in Clay at Hatfield house in the morning. Looking forward to the show and catching up with folk. The show runs from Friday to Sunday 10am - 5pm. Good British summer clothes packed: sun screen and wellies and some good beer for the evenings. Also on board are pots destined for the 'Woodfired', exhibition at the Contemporary Ceramic Centre, at 68, Great Russel Street, London, which runs from the 16th August until the 8th September. Next weekend I'll be down in Stratford-Upon-Avon demonstrating at Warwickshire open studios. Also showing are painter  Claire Brierley and Photographer Sophie Ganner, the show looks great. Hope to see you at one of these if you can make it :-)


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Let the show begin

Well, the van's packed ready for the trip up to Rufford tomorrow for the Earth and Fire event. The event runs form 10am to 5pm Friday to Sunday. I'm bringing a few larger pots and some of the smaller pieces out of the last firing. I've also altered my stand a little from last year and I think it looks crisp and displays the work well. Hope to see you there :-)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A few small events

Well it's been a few weeks since the last firing, all the grinding has been done and it was time to start getting organised for the various shows I'm doing over the summer. Over the bank holiday week end 6th- 7th May I was asked to take part in some making demos at Rufford Country Park helping to promote Craft and Design month as well as the rapidly approaching Earth and Fire event now in it's 18th year. (This year it runs from Friday 22nd June to Sunday 24th). This was well attended and Polly Uttley and myself stoically demonstrated even though the weather was freezing. On the Monday we were allowed inside, which at least meant we could feel our fingers :-)

Last weekend 20th May I was showing in Loughborough town Centre in an event entitled Ceramics in Charnwood. Again, this event was organised to promote ceramics in Leicestershire and also to promote Craft and Design month. Again it was freezing but well attended. As I write this we have the first hot day of the year, and I'd be loving it if I didn't have a stinking cold. Whoop!

Now looking forward to Earth and Fire in a month or so. followed 2 weeks later by Art in Clay at Hatfield House :-)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A few pieces from the last firing

Well, the dust has settled or rather been forced to the ground by the persistant rain and, having cleaned up the work from the first firing I've now had the chance to take some images of individual pieces. So, here are a few:

A couple of lidded boxes.  These have been sitting on the shelf for about 18 months because having made them I couldn't work out if I liked them or not. Really pleased I finally fired them.

These three bottles stand at around 70-80cm and were fired close to the firebox.

A pair of the black jars stand around 130cm.

Three large shino glazed platters about 70cm diameter.

Already starting to think ahead to the next firing which will hopefully be late this year or early next. Also planning a firing in the anagama at Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire early October time, so plenty of work to be made over the next few months. Had a good couple of days demonstrating at Rufford craft centre over the bank holiday weekend promoting Earth and Fire and Craft & Design Month. My next event is the weekend after next (20th May), in Loughborough town centre where 40 makers will be showing again to promote Craft and Design month. Busy busy :-)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The unpacking.

I spent the day yesterday unpacking the first firing in the new kiln. Didn't stop raining all day and I've kind of had enough of it now. Some really exciting pieces came out. The kiln has settled well and the slight lowering of the grate bars had done it's job in creating a slight firebasket to contain the coals.

So this is the view on unbricking the door, really pleased with these large pieces very rich surfaces the only applied glaze was a little of my titanium ash glaze on the necks. Steve's pot in the centre is an absolute corker.

The tall black jars have come out great and the new shino beakers are really beautiful, with touches of carbon trapping, ash deposits and blushes of orange and red especially on the insides. The above image is of the large front shelf stack.

Here's another shot which shows off the large jars well.

Three of Steve Parry's bottles, really rich colours :-)

And another couple from lower down.

This image is the front of the middle stack, some great work off the shelves but the floor level was very oxidised. I'll remedy this in the next firing by reducing the exit flues slightly and also by building an active damper into the chimney so that the flames can be slowed down and held in the chamber longer, this should help to equalise both the internal chamber atmosphere and the temperature.

Here is the shelf stack just infront of the rear side stoke. Upper levels were very rich and the bowls you can see wadded upside down are lovely as are the other pieces which are shelved. floor level again was quite oxidised.

And finally, the back stack. Good temperature (ortone cone 12 bending). As a reverse to the middle of the pack there was good reduction lower down in front of the flues and slightly more oxidised above, not suprising i guess as everything was being channeled through the pieces directly in front of the flues.
So all in all very pleased with it all. I have to keep reminding myself that this was the first firing and as such was better than I would have hoped. I'll post up some images of individual pieces when I get chance to take some. I'll be taking a few pieces up to Rufford Craft Centre Nottinghamshirenext weekend (Sunday 6th and Monday 7th May), where I'll be demonstrating throwing various pieces. :-)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

We did it :-)

We finished the firing today at 1.30pm. Really couldn't have hoped for a better firing in a new kiln.

We started packing on Tuesday morning. Steve Parry arrived in time for coffee at 10.30 and after unloading etc. we started to pack, it felt a bit like being confronted with a massive blank canvas and then being handed a small paintbrush. We seemed to have loads of work and a huge space in which to fit it all.

So, starting from the back the first pieces were placed, every pot being placed on a wadding mix of fireclay sand and sawdust to stop it stickng to the floor. The kiln broke down nicely into sections: upper and lower in front of the chimney flues and then a row of larger pieces close to the side stoke grate.

 We then placed two shelves on each side with a gap down the middle where taller pieces were placed and bridged by another shelf.

Packing continued on the Wednesday with a day of constant heavy rain until the kiln was full.

The door was bricked up late wednesday night and the kiln lit early Thursday morning.

Thursday was spent sorting out wood stacks, chain sawing and slowly building the coals, by the evening the fire was fully on the grate and we started feeding through the top stoke hole. Many thanks to Joe and Carl who did the graveyard shift on Thursday night. By the morning we had a flame visible in the chimney and about 1260 C at the front and 1000 at the back.

A rather bad picture of Jo. camera shake not influenced by the beer but by bad light and a camera phone. Friday was spent coninuing to build the temperature in the chamber and cutting more wood stacks. We had lots of visitors on Friday to see what was going on and another big thanks to Richard for spending the day helping to move wood and stoke. On Friday evening Kazu arrived and got stuck into stoking. Below is a nice pic of him sitting infront of the kiln.

As you can see we had a strong flame from the chimney now after each stoke. Many thanks go to him for doing that late shift. Early Saturday morning we began side stoking as well as front stoking with the front temperature at around 1400C (orton cone 15 flat), the back was a little cooler but began to climb after we realised that I had forgotten to seal the back stoke air inlet under the grate. The kiln had been sucking in cold air to the back for most of the firing. Having sealed this, the temperature began to climb, and by 1pm was around 1280/1300C. At 1.30 we decided to end as we a had achieved and held good temperature and all the work we could see was very glassy from all the ash which had gone through the kiln. Many thanks to Bee for helping move wood around on the last morning. Below is a short clip of Steve stoking the back of the kiln and me the front on the last day filmed by my 10 year old daughter

The whole kiln was sealed after one final look through the front.

There are a few slight modifications to be done mainly building an active damper into the chimney but apart from that the kiln fired like a dream. Now comes the long wait for the whole structure and all it's contents to cool down. We used 6 palletts of soft wood (about 3 cord) + 3 bundles of hard wood. Although the kiln fired well it won't be until we can actually see the work that we can start to analyse the overall success. I'll post again when I unpack. Time for a rather large glass of wine I think :-)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Job done!

Well, that's it, after four months work the new kiln is finished! All the bracing metal work is in place and I've sorted out the stoke hole doors both front and back. 8 pallets of pine edgings are now in the yard ready for the first firing which will be from the 19th - 22nd April. Most of the work is made. I've had a small fire in the kiln to help dry it out although with all the great weather recently it has dried out pretty well anyway. Having a fire in there did give me the opportunity to check the draw from the chimney which seems to pull well, so it all looks pretty promising.

I'll start applying glaze to those pieces which will have it next week, as well as servicing my chainsaw ready for some cutting. 8 palletts of wood should give roughly 2 firings but as this is the first firing and a bit of an unknown I'm prepared to use more than the 3.5 pallets which used to fire the old kiln. I've been asked to do a couple of days demonstrating at Rufford Craft Centre in Nottinghamshire on the 6 -7th May so hopefully will be able to take some examples from the new kiln.
Next posts will be when we  pack the kiln on the 17th and 18th April. :-)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Tying up ends

Well, The first firing is about a month away and  yesterday was spent with Rob collecting four bundles of hardwood edgings which are now stacked undercover. The rest of the wood for the firing (about 8 palletts of pine edgings), is hopefully coming the week after next, so fuel gathering is well underway.

I've also started laying the floor and grate, all the whole bricks are layed and now I've got to start cutting filler bricks. This will be done the week after next as I'm busy doing other things next week. The steel uprights should also be finished next week so again week after next I should be able to get the bulk of it done.

  As the firing gets closer and seeing the inside of the kiln taking shape, I'm starting to be able to visualise how the kiln might be packed. Exciting stuff!

Monday, 5 March 2012

A taste of spring

Last Wednesday with the help of Alex and Robin,  3rd year students on the 3DD programme, we got the insulation layer onto the kiln. A 4 to 5" layer springing from the side insulation blocks covering the whole arch. It was an ideal day for doing the job, warm and sunny which made the mixing and spreading the 2 tons of mix slightly more enjoyable. Now just waiting for the metalwork to be completed and I can then bolt and cement it in place.

I'm now well into making work for the first firing. Starting with the largest pieces and working down, there's one more large composite vessel to make and then i'll start on the smaller pieces, I've already been making new platters and bowls which are being bisc fired at the moment.