The Process of Making Pottery

  Part III - The Fire

Part I - The Clay            Part II  - The Glaze


Today - kiln prep

When preparing to fire a kiln  it's always nice to start up a fire:

Do you know anyone who empties the lint screen in their dryer after they use it?
Of course not. That even exceeds my OCD nature.  Similarly, before using the kiln shelves again one must clean the shelves from last time
I use a sharp wood chisel to remove the small bits of glaze that might be left
Always with a fan to blow those sharp little things out the window and away from your lungs.
And I use gardening gloves to keep my lily whites from getting scratched on the sharp shelf corners

For larger glaze disasters I use an angle grinder on the advice of the guru from Tennessee, Vince Pitelka:

Always apply thin coats of kiln wash rather then one thick coat:

Furniture cart at the ready:

And cone cart:

It's a set up - to load for firing on Saturday 20th

 Load the Kiln:

T minus 12 hours and counting: gather up all the little parts needed to finish kiln assembly

Before loading I start up the fire to make sure there were no spiders making webs and nest in the tubing to prevent ignition:
Yellow flames are not a good sign -  should be blue - currently under investigation

The controls - from the top:
Factory thermocouple, control box, Axner oxyprobe, gas pressure controls

The other side of the above scene showing the factory probe above and the oxyprobe below shielded by kiln stilts:

Bill Schran advises to put larger pots on the bottom so as not to obstruct the flame exit

Halfway there

Lightly loaded with cones in place
I use the flashlight to look through the peepholes  (it's dark in there with no fire)
To make sure the cones are visible

Get the record straight:

Say a prayer to the kiln god

Update the web page

Get a good night's sleep for a 6AM ignition on  3/20/10

Klin Log


I'm into reduction:

Next: the results on Monday March 22, 2010

With the patience of Job, he waits until the pots aren't even hot

Before documenting this step - adjust the white balance with a  gray card:

The results

You'll notice cone 11 is down on top, not on bottom
I've removed the saggars that I had over three of the two tone pots shown below

If you want to spook yourself out: figure out how this image of my kiln gods got on film - it was not intentional

The glaze disaster referred to above.

Thanks to Vince I'll be ready for

  " fair share of abuse" as Mick Jagger put it

Curiously the glaze shown on the carafe above left is a cone 6 Nutmeg glaze - it didn't run at all

And the kiln's side of the argument:

I saw it coming, therefore I placed old kiln shelf pieces under these potss
The glaze contained 1/3 unwashed ash which did fine in an electric kiln at cone 9
Just grind, rinse and repeat

Being a potter involves the wearing of many hats:

Quality Control Executioner:

You may choose the eliminate pots that you do not want to appear in your oeuvre.

And by doing so, can gain some more knowledge, such as :

1. Every pots is not precious as you might think

2. Most are considered too precious - the art is in the making - not in the artifact

3. You get to see what the inside looks like:

Above you can see what I mistook as "Black Coring"  - a firing error supposed to come from over reduction too early in the firing cycle.
As it turns out, by comparing the clay with other potter's results, it seems that with a clay body saturated in iron - dark gray is the appropriate color after a rduction firing.

One theory for the above dark body color was early reduction, caused by a yellow flame.
This theory is still under investigation by examination of the burner orifice:

So  I put the plumber and gas fitter hat on:

The burner in place with fireclay sleeve removed:


The gas orifice in question is the hole in the brass nut at the bottom there where the propane gas comes out:

Currently in the hands of the kiln manufacturer
Should the hole be smaller to force the gas out at a higher pressure?

Since I am not qualified to  teach photographic techniques I'll just let you judge the finals:
 I use a Nikon D70s, on a tripod, white balanced on gray card, manual exposure mode, 10 second timer delay
I'd like to get more depth of field
Also currently under investigation
This is the basic setup
Spotslights above diffuser, graduated background

The 4th and 5th from the left above were in saggers painted inside with CuCO3 to protect a red glaze at some time in the past

It flashed back onto the wood ash and made it red

Crystals formed by the wood ash on Shino:

Click here for the rest of the pots from this kiln load:

Thus concludes the series on

The Process of Making Pottery

Part I - The Clay      Part II  - The Glaze  

Click here for pots from November, 14. 2009

Click here for pots from August 2009

Click here for pots from May 2008

Click here for pots from February 2008

Click here for pots made in 2007

Click here for pots made in 2005

Click here for Glaze Recipes

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Now,  back to the drawing board for more pots:

Other projects:

Garden Pavilion

Inside furnishings compete March 20, 2010: