firing kilns

our new soda kiln

our new soda kiln

wednesday turned out to be my day of firing kilns.

last week on my day off i went over to the studio to help c.p. with some tasks re: the new soda kiln.  v and i kiln-washed the inside, all the door brick, the bricks for the bagwell and the target bricks.  c.p. turned on the burners so we could see the direction the flame would take upon hitting the target bricks. the anticipation was building to fire the brand new soda kiln.   saturday i heard through the grapevine that c.p. would be ready to load tuesday.  j and i would help and the kiln would be fired wednesday.  perfect for me.

then, tuesday morning  i saw r pulling kaowool off rudy’s burners.  with surprise i asked, “did you fire?”.  he said, “no, i’m about to load, didn’t you say wednesday was the best day for you to help out?”.

how awesome!  day of multiple firings.  i would have to leave to teach at creative clay and to stop at an appointment but would be present for the majority of firing.  r and decided to meet at 4 am to start turning up the kilns.

ok, so the truth is, it’s all a bit of a blur.  we started doing turn ups at 4 am, actually r came in at 2 to get a head start on rudy since he couldn’t sleep.  around 5, i think, c joined us.  we started with one burner on the soda and eventually turned on the second.  it was all uncharted territory with the new soda, no old logs to reference.  the pyrometer seemed to be in a strange place, catching a bit of flame so it didn’t match the cones.  there were turn ups, logging, putting rudy into body reduction and taking him out.  then i went to creative clay.  my artlink partner m and i worked on books and decided to take our lunches to the clay co.  i think the soda was ready for body reduction while were there so we went outside to help.  i had her stand back, but with a good view of everything going on and she was able to peek in and see cone 012 falling.  when we walked back inside she asked, “could i learn how to do that?”  i told her that for sure she could do like i have been doing, observing when firings are happening and get to know the process better.

after i returned there was a bit of a lull, rudy was just about done.  i checked out the settings ron had used  for glaze reduction before we took it out.  c and i shut rudy down.  the soda kiln was still chugging along.  we were waiting on cone 8 and 9 to get soft.  it got dark while all this waiting was happening.  c.p. and i got hungry and ordered pizza.  he went to get it and when he got back it was totally time to soda.  the baking soda, soda ash and water were all prepped in the sprayer and mixed with saw dust so we scarfed down a slice of pizza each and started making “chalupas” out of newspaper.  shoving them in turned out to be pretty hysterical, and we had to improve our design or they would get stuck on the bricks and burst into flame.  after that there was spraying, a whole lotta spraying and reduction and finally we were done.  c.p. showed me how to shut down the kiln and we sat down to enjoy some more pizza before leaving.

what a good time!  i learned a lot, got to see a lot and of course got to soda the kiln.   friday i went over after work to see the work that was unloaded.  i was super pleased with my peices (2 wall peices and the garlic wall hanging i made for benny).  the were all highwater helios porcelain and were in the bottom of the kiln where cone 11 had started to fall.  they had a nice sheen and one of the wall pieces had just a little gray speckling from reduction.

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