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.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The maiden firing approaches....

Well....here it is! My lovely little new kiln. Finished and ready to go.

Today I biscuit fired all the work that will go through its first firing. A bit of a stressful bisque really - and very slow. There's a real range of clays in there, from smectitic Fen clays (like the Buttery clay), high silica Leicestershire glacial clays and Malvern Carboniferous era ball clays. Some of these are carbonaceous too, but the most problematic is the green clay. It's very fine, beautifully plastic, but not sticky, but very prone to bloating in the bisque as the sulphur that is bonded to its iron content burns out. It is already dense at 1000C so I did a long soak at 700 - 800C in strong oxidation. Fingers crossed.
Packing Thursday, firing Friday.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Arch and sticky sticky clays

The cloudless skies have re-energised me and I've got loads done this week. the kiln is really taking shape - chimney finished (8ft from chimney floor, which seems short but it's a small kiln) and the arch is in place.

Still quite a bit of cutting to do to fill in the side wall of the chamber, then cover with secondary insulation + finish the firebox roof. Next week I'll measure up for all the metalwork.

Alongside this I've been working with many of the non-stoneware clays that I have collected, including local Fen clays, for an 1150C firing in the new kiln. I have managed to use some successfully, with homemade grog additions, but there's been a lot of cracking going on, with a very late sudden shrinkage that indicates highly plastic smectite clay minerals. My reading confirms that this is often the case with these Fenland clays, making them very difficult to work with. I have found one seam of sandy clay that is quite useable as it is (fantastic!) but only have a small sample of it + the area I got it from has now been quarried out.
This will give an idea of some of the new forms I am making - made from a boulder clay collected at Beacon Hill National Park in Leicestershire.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The pit is opened

It took a couple of days to burn through, but today we opened + unpacked the Pit. Not bad for a first attempt with some good pinks and yellows from the seaweed and some colour from copper and soda, as well as the balcks.
I spent the rest of the day on the new wood kiiln. It now has a sturdy shelter (seemingly pointless in this fantastic sunshine) and only 2 more feet to add to the chimney. Arch tomorrow, along with crushing Triassic sandstone to add to my very fine Carboniferous ball clays from the Malvern Hills. More on this and my new work later.....

Monday, 3 June 2013

Sun, sawdust and the Pit

Almost eight months after first planning to do this, instead of rain the sun was shining beautifully and everyone from my morning Throwing Classes turned up with assorted bags of sawdust, straw, bicarbonate of soda and dried seaweed for the now legendary Pit Firing.
It's been dug into the ground, lined with old and now unusable kiln shelves from my dismantled salt kiln and built up with bricks. If we get enough temperature I'm hoping the kiln shelves might fume + add to the flashing?

It was filled up to the top of the kiln shelves, covered with sawdust and woodchip + then a raging bonfire built up on top to get a good bed of hot embers.
Then it was covered with corrugated iron + left to burn through. It's nearly 6pm now + still very hot + smouldering.