Saturday, November 6, 2010

Block Party


After weeks and weeks and weeks of drying - so much that people stopped asking me if I had fired yet: it was getting embarrassing, like asking "Set a date yet?" years after the ring appears - it is finally time to fire these puppies, in what may be my last firing in Watershed's medium gas kiln. (Watershed has about a million kilns, one of which I think of as the gas giant -- more on that later.)

I can think of things that could go wrong ing this firing. I don't wish to enumerate them, for superstitious reasons, but the initials are "explode." I consulted with Kelly Donahoe, the studio assistant at Portland Pottery ( and a darn fine potter herself.) PP had a paid firing last month of some blocks much larger than these; a person was casting all the brick for their kiln. And you thought I was a glutton for punishment; I can't hold a candle to that chick. Anyway, Kelly told me that that firing was slower than the usual bisque, but not by much, just an longer overnight candle. 

My firing schedule looks like this:

  • One pilot on, door cracked, spies out, at 12 noon today.
  • Close door and spies at 10 pm. 
  • Turn on second pilot tomorrow morning early, Say, 5 am. 
  • Do the handy-dandy mirror trick.*
  • If that looks okay, turn burners on tomorrow at 12 noon.
  • Begin a slow turn-up schedule, similar to a glaze firing, without the reduction slowing things down.
  • Shoot right past Cone 10 to see 11 starting. 

*The handy-dandy mirror trick is simply holding a mirror up to the spy hole to see if it fogs up. If it does, the ware is still shedding water -- better stretch out the candle. 

Oh, speaking of gas giants: in addition to making a whole boatload of greenware, I also got some interesting reading done while waiting for water to evaporate. Among others, I read Death from the Skies!: The Science Behind the End of the World and From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time. From one or the other of these excellent books, I learned that all the iron in the world - did I say the world? Scratch that: all the iron in the entire universe -- comes from the heart of stars going supernova. That's the only way iron, an element, is created. I'll never look at tenmoku the same again.

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