Winter Wood Firing

Last Monday, Becky Brandow of Willow Avenue Pottery joined me to unload the wood kiln we’d fired the weekend before.  Between the firing and pizza party we had during the firing, I didn’t manage to get any photos of the firing itself.  Didn’t even get my traditional pic of the loaded kiln before we brick up the door.  Apparently I don’t deal well with distractions.  Oh well…the photos would have looked just like my previous firings anyway.

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The Day After A Firing

For lots of people it’s Small Business Saturday.  But for me it’s the day after a firing so I’m having a Peek In A Cooling Kiln Day or Melt Your Flashlight Day.  I’ve done both today and will continue to peek in the kiln with a different flashlight and try to remember not to place the light so close to the peek hole.  


Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and successful Small Business Saturday. 

June Woodfiring

A few years ago, we were younger and more naive woodfiring.  We fired the kiln over the weekend that followed the 4th of July.  It ended up being a very hot, humid weekend with no breeze made so much worse by the fact that we were standing in close proximity to the kiln as it reached it’s peak temp the same time the day reached it’s peak temp.  After that firing we vowed to never fire in July again.  


Now a few years down the road, we are older and wiser in our woodfiring practices.  We’ve adjusted our firing schedule so we encounter the top temp of the kiln through the night to take advantage of the cooler air temps.  A large barn fan has become a wonderful breeze in the kiln shed on days when nature isn’t providing one.  And by keeping our firings to primarily spring and fall of the year we avoid the super cold of Minnesota winters and the hot, humid days of Minnesota summers.  

So what was I thinking when I scheduled a firing for the last weekend in June??? Isn’t that pretty much the same as July???  Anyway…

 For the most part the firing went well.  There were some unusual happenings but overall, I feel really good about the anticipated results.  

We experienced torrential rains, then sunshine and humidity, and back to the rains again through the entire firing.  We lost power for approximately 3 hours during the night and had to use a collection of solar lights from the garden as the only light (other than the firebox of course) in the kiln shed.  The following morning was beautiful.  And we finished just before another storm blew in to start the days downpour/sunshine rotation all over again.  


Can’t wait to unload and see how everything looks.

Lessons Learned

So… last week I showed you some of my favorite results from the last kiln firing.  Today, I want so show some of the things I wasn’t so fond of.  

In this firing I had a number of larger bowls with slip chatter design in the bottom.  Most of them turned out great, but a few had some significant bloating.  It’s hard to see in this photo, but this is probably the largest bloat at approximately the size of a quarter.  The bowl was at the front of the kiln near the bagwall.  

Speaking of bloating… check this one out.  The side photographed was facing the fire and just above the bagwall.

 The entire top part of the kiln fired a little hotter than usual this time.  On top, cone 10 was touching the shelf while on the bottom it was just getting soft.  Contributing factor to the bloating issue?  Not really sure, but I’m going with that thought for now and hope to really keep an eye on the next firing to keep the top and bottom closer as well as making sure nothing in the front hangs over the edge of the shelf.  We’ll see if that helps.

My last disappointment was with the Woodfire Porcelain I was testing.  Its a great clay body to work with, but my disappointment came with the lack of color in the firing.  The bare clay stayed pretty white through the firing and I guess I was just hoping it would take on a more toasty color.  I don’t necessarily dislike the color of white clay, but I can get that effect in my electric kiln.

If made from B clay, the mug in the photo below would have been a golden brown with black dots rather than just white with black dots.  Lesson learned… I like my B-clay and Buff Stoneware.

Now to apply these lessons for my next firing.  That’s always the hardest part.  If anyone has any suggestions on the bloating, I’d love to hear them.  Be well.

February 2013 Wood fire

Last weekend Becky Brandow from Willow Avenue Pottery joined me for a wintery wood fire.  Yesterday, I unloaded the kiln and spent a little time taking photos. 

Every firing has it’s good and bad outcomes – here are some of my favorites pieces. 

A couple slip decorated bowls glazed with amber celadon.
 

Snowflake impressed tile with turquoise glass

 

Random other things
 
 

And my favorite Becky item… you’ll have to watch her blog 
for more of her work from this firing.
As I mentioned, not everything turns out as you’d hoped and I’ll discuss those in my next post after I’ve had a little time to explore the hows and whys of my disappointment in them as well as what can be learned and improved.  
Have a great week.

Wintery Firing & Giveaway Reminder

I just finished up a winter woodfiring with my friend Rebecca Brandow of Willow Avenue Pottery.  Becky pushed the kiln through a stall at around 2000 degrees to get this firing done.  Way to go Becky!!.

Here is a the last picture we took while holding the kiln at temp so the bottom part of the kiln could catch up to the temp on the top of the kiln.  Cone 10 is on the left, cone 11 center and cone 12 to the right.

And just a reminder… my Blog Anniversary Giveaway ends on the 15th.  To find out how you can win one of these pendants, click here.

Firing #7

Bright and early this morning we buttoned up our 7th firing of the wood kiln.  We loaded it up on Saturday afternoon.  Went out for dinner with friends and then on Sunday morning we started the firing.  

It was a little chilly so I spent most of the morning sitting in front of the fire box adding small pieces of wood until it got too hot to sit there.  


After 24 hours of firing, cone 11 was starting to go on the top shelf and 10 was bent on the bottom.


Do you have to wonder why someone who knows they are going to get just plain filthy firing, decides to wear a white sweatshirt?  Because my “It’s OK if I’m dirty, I’m a potter” sweatshirt wasn’t around.  It makes perfect sense. 

Kiln Opening Party Slideshow Video

During the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour last month, we hosted a kiln opening party.  It was a great time to have so many people around to share my “Christmas morning” and a few beers. Watching the video, it appears I spent most of the time making faces, but I swear in each of the photos I was actually talking so it was just motor mouth funny faces, not “I’m a dork” funny faces.  Honestly!!!

Catching up

I haven’t written anything in a while because I’ve been super busy.  No apologies, just got lots of things to get ya all caught up on happenings here.


Two weekends ago, we fired the wood kiln with a load we planned to unload during the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour the following weekend.  We had great weather and the firing went well.  This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday we had a great time hosting visitors during the studio tour, even if the weather was cold and windy.  On Saturday night, a couple dozen friends and clients joined us for a kiln opening party.  Our favorite people, good food, wine & beer and a kiln opening – what could be better?  





I’m working on a slide show of all the wonderful photos and video friends took during the party.  But in the meantime, enjoy these teaser photos.