Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Opening the Kiln

The kiln took quite a few days to cool, as hard bricks hold heat a long time.
Firing was on Wednesday, Thursday everything was still very hot. Fri, Sat & Sunday, I worked at the winery. (I have a part-time job at a winery tasting room/art gallery just 3 miles down the road from me.)

Each day, I opened the kiln a little more. Friday, it was cracking the dampers and removing kaowool from the burner openings. I also removed the door frame of 2" thick kaowool that super-insulated the bricked-up door. Saturday morning, I checked the temperature inside the kiln with the pyrometer, and found it was down to 700 degrees F. I could safely remove the 3 peep hole plugs on the front & back for a final cooling. It wouldn't be until Monday that I had time to take down the brick door. Monday was a beautiful, warm, sunny day - very different from the intense cold and showers of the previous week. I had to wait til dusk to take the photo you see on the above left, as the sunlight across the bottom half of the kiln washed any picture-taking with my digital camera.

The piece on the right was contributed by my friend Bob. He brought over a half dozen pieces that he sprayed an ash glaze on. The ones I have seen turned out great. What was that glaze recipe again? I'd like to use it on more pieces, next firing.

In the meantime, on the day the kiln was fired, I caught a nasty headcold that is still hanging on a week later. I also got a (fortunately, very mild) case of poison oak on my face and neck. During one of the lulls on firing-the-kiln-day, I decided to get my electric chain saw out & start cutting some of the branches from the wood pile near the kiln. I remember using a gloved hand to turn up the collar on my down vest, and wipe my running nose. Will I ever learn to not touch my body after touching oak rounds? I did toss a few small pieces of wood into the firing kiln, but we decided the wood was not dry enough to make any contribution, so it got re-covered for the next firing. Never a dull moment.

Howard is due here tomorrow, Wednesday, to show me how to remove the delicate thermocouples from the burners until the next firing. Perhaps I'll get the first stack of shelves unloaded so we can see the middle stack of pots and draw conclusions from the first firing.

So far, I've seen there was very good reduction in the kiln, the colors are incredible. To my surprise, the colors turned out different than they used to in my old kiln. I will photograph & post these soon. The inside of the kiln is beautiful! The hard bricks are a toasty brown. You can see a large vase in the upper left of the front stack. It was in the kiln as a place-holder, a cracked piece of stoneware that I kept around just because I always liked the shape. It turned out a beautiful light brown. I'm pleased with the pots I've been able to see, and look forward to the others.

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