...and a handful of Wows. I'm not greedy; a handful of wows is all it takes to make me happy.
Hoping for the best while expecting the worst has become my secret default posture when it comes to the never-ending story of this kiln; so I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked the door around noon, and peering in, was greeted by a pot that didn't suck. Right there! In my kiln! How did that happen?
My hopes dipped when I removed the first big block; things were looking pretty dry in there. But wait! There's another non-sucking pot! And while there were a couple on that first layer that had cracked or crawled, even the unsatisfactory pots mostly didn't suck out loud; they were just dry, due, I suppose, to this being the first firing. I nearly doubled what would be a standard application of soda, but it looks like maybe I should have tripled it. Some pots, too, would have benefited from a solid cone 10, instead of the barely-nodding version we reached, but most on that first layer were just a little dry.
Now cautiously optimistic, I took a break to allow more cooling (mixed up some pizza dough in the bread maker -- Doug is a cham-PEEN pizza chef.) The first layer out, I removed another brick to reveal the next. Still some dry refires, but not as dry, not as many. ..and some really nice pots! Onward, next layer.
Bingo. This layer clearly didn't fail to reach temperature. In fact, when I get to the bottom, these pots look more like Cone 11+ than 9 or 10. I wish I had put cone packs in the lower part of the kiln -- didn't think of it until too late. This is useful information, though: I am dealing with a different problem than I thought. My troubles are not twofold -- slow firing and failure to reach -- but only one: uneven firing. The bottom probably reached temp hours before I shut it off. judging by the running on the few pieces glazed on the outside. Top cool, bottom hot...what do ya make of that?
I'd love to take more photos, but it is going on 4 pm -- "dark o'clock" here in Maine. More tomorrow.