21 May 2012

Decisions decisions

Set the alarm for 5 and was woken by the puppy at 4.30. She couldn't understand why I wanted her to go out when she'd already peed in the kitchen. Lit the gas and retired again to be kept awake by the birds. But it was a lovely dawn, high broken cloud, slight breeze bringing the scent of the sea and the sun sending shafts of orange light across the sky.
8 hours later the kln is at 1029 C and the sun is shining.
I'm hoping to make some decisions about the new kiln today. Reading Kiln Building by Ian Gregory and trying to absorb the information concerning ratios of flue to chimney and grate to chamber floor etc. Aaaaaarrggh!

Just get on with it.

8 May 2012

The firing, continued...

 Lovely new cladding on the kiln.  Fire clay, vermiculite and a bit of sawdust. It was like plastering with porridge only less salty. And had the added bonus of making the arch look a little more professional. The green posts are ex-tennis court posts rammed into the ground, wedged with bricks and wired together over the top in an attempt to counterbalance the desire of the arch to become a pile of bricks.

And lo and behold the whole construction held together, rather well actually, and looks a whole ot better than the ware chamber.
The new arch is a proper roman arch and considerably higher than the old one. Had we thought about it we should have lowered the supporting walls by a course or two. We weren't sure how this extra volume of the fire chamber would affect our ability to reach temperature. The results, after 40 hours of stoking dry pine slab wood was cone 10 melted almost throughout the chamber (middle back cone 10 was just down). To my eye, the best firing yet, some lovely natural ash glaze, good crusty effects in the firebox, not too many collapses, not too much reduction. We could spend more time building up ash deposits in the next firing being fairly confident of achieving a good temperature if we have good wood.
More detail of the firing log soon. photos next

I won an award

In the middle of rebuilding, chopping wood, packing the kiln and firing it in 4 hour shifts for 40 hours in a place of limited mobile and wifi coverage, I learned that I have won The craft&design Selected Awards 2012: Ceramics, gold award.


 'These highly regarded national awards, first launched in 2009, are based on an Online Public Vote for British and Irish designer makers with work represented in Selected, craft&design’s prestigious online gallery at  www.craftmaker.co.uk. The Public Vote determines six finalists in each of six categories. Specialist Invited Judges, together with the craft&design panel, subsequently assess the work of the finalists to establish one Gold Award Winner, two Silver Award Winners and three Finalists in each category, with just one person being awarded the top accolade of craft&design Maker of the Year Award.'

The only downside to this is that the lovely and wonderfully talented slipware queen Hannah McAndrew couldn't join me on the podium and had to settle for silver! But how do you compare apples and pears? Or jugs and bowls for that matter?