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, 17 February 2015

Who says men can't multitask?

After the incessant rain of yesterday it was a pleasure to continue packing the kiln in clear skied sunshine. Chilly, yes, but no time to worry about fridge cold wadding on my fingers.
I'm taking my time to pack the kiln - many pots are glazed but I'm continuing to glaze as I got - getting the best pack I can with the most appropriate clays, slips and glazes for each part of the packing space. Feeling unseasonally full of energy I decided to do a glaze firing in the gas kiln as well today. Pretty simple really to balance the two - until reduction time when the kiln suddenly became atypically unresponsive. One of the flame failure devices had given up
resulting in frantic repair work to get the burner back on. Finally I was back on track with a slow temperature rise in gentle reduction. Kiln packing continued along with a delivery that needed unpacking and hauling up to my workshop, gas delivery and the last of the rocks dry milling and needing seiving.
I'm typing one handed, holding a glass of excellent Rioja, as I write this. Aching slightly, but feeling nicely chilled and chuffed as I mull over all the things I did today. The firing finished smoothly, with an oxidised soak - cone 10 half down. The front chamber of the kiln is packed, and I'm halfway up the left hand stack in the back chamber. 2 days down, maybe only 1 to go.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

True Grit

Glazing is well underway and I'm preparing the last of the rocks needed for my rock glazes - a coarse pink granite  and a darker microgranite from Cumbria. I've crushed and milled the hardest/most difficult rocks - notably a Cumbrian rhyolite and some of the limestones I have - and these last are pretty easy.
First up I calcine them in my small test kiln - just up to a good red heat - maybe around 800C. It doesn't matter exactly how hot as long as the rocks are red hot right through. Sometimes I have to use a steel mallet to get them into manageable size and they are truly hard! These have been calcined + all the moss/lichen burnt off.

During this process the crystals in the rock expand and contract at different rates making them beautifully crumbly. Next it's the turn of my trusty mortar and pestle, and a good stretch of time.
Repeated crushing and seiving
to get the rocks down to this size grit. They are then dry ball milled for 3 hours or so to get the particles down to dust size, which is probably around 100 - 120 mesh.
Then, blending with other rocks and clays to get my glazes. I'm aiming to finish glazing this coming week, finish splitting wood and still have to grind glazes off the floor of the kiln.