Welcome to my blog. I will attempt to make it much more than just a pitiful list of the relentlessly mundane minutiae of my daily existence but if you feel that I have failed try to imagine all the stuff that I haven't posted.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Packed and ready to go

Yep - after a flurry of glazing and wadding and prop making I was finally ready to pack the nice clean kiln this week. I decided to pack a little looser than last time - fewer pieces but more room for flame paths around the stack.
This is the (slightly wonky - me not the stack!) view from the firebox. A couple of larger pieces on the floor and the usual single shelf layer. This next photo shows the back of the rear chamber stack. There are 2 stacks of this size in the chamber. The next has only 2 shelves and some tall pieces up at the top. I'm interested to see how this effects the temperatures and flame paths during the firing.
It's all bricked up now and waiting until next week for the firing. I'm away for a lecture/slide show/demonstration and exhibition and hopefully by next week the rain will have stopped and the wind will be from a better direction.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The excitement mounts

I'm now well into probably my favourite time within a working practice that is, fortunately for me, packed full of very enjoyable processes. The biscuit firings are done, the rocks are finally crushed and ball milled to dust, the wood is (finally) dry in not so neat stacks and I am busy planning the pack for the next firing. The glaze book is open and I'm blending and mixing.
The image is of my trusty steel mortar and pestle. I use this to get the rocks down to grit size so that they can be ball milled. The last rock was a rhyolite from Langdale in the Lake District, which is a fine particled intermediate volcanic rock created from compacted volcanic ash. Despite calcining it is very hard + my shoulders are still feeling it. Even the ball mill struggled. The planning of the pack is very important. Some rocks need plenty of heat and action from the wood to achieve their best while others need protection and a slightly lower temperature. I can also adjust the recipes according to where the piece is placed in the kiln.
The kiln is all cleaned out and ready - ash saved and the floor carefully chiseled to remove setters and glaze runs. This image shows the view from the back chamber into the catenary arch firebox, showing the front grate, packing space and sidestoke grate. Two more days of glazing and then the packing starts. It's a time of real excitement, loaded with possibilities and anticipation.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Holidays over and summer is here.

It's been a long time since my last post and while I did squeeze in a holiday and a festival I've been hard at work preparing for the next firing.
Now the sun has finally come out I have been splitting wood + leaving it out in the sun to dry out. Some of the new wood I got 3 months ago has already started going mouldy due to the incessant rain, so though this is well over a year old, I'm not sure how high its moisture content is. I have some hornbeam left over from the last firing but most of this is oak and red oak. Should be interesting.
First biscuit firing is done and was successful. These are made with a couple of Devon secondary kaolins, which are extremely prone to fire cracking. As you can see they are still in one piece. The kiln is drying out another load and I am crushing and ball milling rocks ready for glazing.