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. :-)