24 October 2012

Higham Hall anagama, October 2012, firing continued

Shozo Michikawa pot, made and fired at Higham
.....a bit more detail about this firing now that I’ve been home 10 days already (I haven’t caught up with everything just accepted that some of it’s late and some forgotten and some just won’t get done)

Frustrating firing given that it failed to reach a good temperature. All those pots, all those miles, all that time. On the other hand lots of good company, lots of superb weather and lots learned.

We had a nice easy climb for 10 hours up to 900ºc using lots of the small wood (I mean very small wisps of wood bundled together, 1 - 3 ft long, 1/2 - 2 inches thick).
Then 4 hours of reduction keeping the temperature around 900º, building up ash in the chamber, using the damp wood.
The next 6 hours saw a slow rise of 100º up to 1100º. This would have been fine if the stokers didn’t have to endlessly rearrange the wood piles in an attempt to dry the wood around the kiln. It was tiring.
From hour 18 (4am) until hour 26 it hung around 1120º finally getting to 1150º at which point we started to feed in the soda through the fire box. We use Carol Nicols recipe of bicarb, soda ash and whiting.
Hour 32 and we’re at 1196º, the maximum achieved on the pyrometer.
Then 6 hours of consistent heavy reduction, continual feeding of wood which ignited before you could get it into the fire mouth. The fire had nothing substantial in the grate to maintain, let alone increase, the temperature. The ash pit was closed up as there was little ash to pre heat the incoming air. And the continual pyro watching, trying to get just a few more degrees.
By hour 39 at 1 am with the wind picking up and blowing onto the long side of the kiln we were actually losing heat so we started on the ton of big dry logs saved for the last stage of firing. Turned off the pyro, turned off the stress.
Now here’s the part which I don’t understand. Using the big logs gave a fire of white heat, minimal reduction, over a period of 4 hours, yet the pyro reading on the hour every hour, showed a decline in heat. And when we unpacked cone 10 was down in various parts of the kiln but most of the glazes were not matured - the exception being a pot of Shozo’s from the ash pit which somehow managed to be fabulous.

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