Friday, September 17, 2021
Thursday, September 16, 2021
The door is on a pivot hinge, to accommodate the space between the kiln & the shed.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Achievement unlocked: the stack is up! As is the arch.
The stack could not be solid, like a conventional stack, because of the draw issue, but Tyler had an idea: we could build it in a checkerboard pattern, leaving gaps between the brick to pull in air. So that's what we did & it looks so cool! Can't wait to see it firing - I am hoping to see a bit of light thru the gaps.
Friday, September 10, 2021
You can see the burner channels in the back, & the soda ports. We placed these ports higher than in the old kiln, as I am planning to switch to the spray-in soda method. Previously I was using the Gail Nichols soda-salad application method, which I enjoyed & got good results, but I've been doing that for 11 years & I am up to try something new. Not 100% new - I have used the spray-in method before, at Watershed, & gotten good results - but this will give me an opportunity to play around with it some more.
Right now I am not able to be much help - Tyler is cutting the angle iron that will make the frame. We got a massive amount of rain last night here in Augusta, so everything is soaked & there are puddles everywhere, so he's not going to be using the arc welder! We can get the pieces up & clamped in place this afternoon.
In between classes & this I have been able to make a few things! Lots of mugs, a few bowls, some small lidded jars for an order. During the deconstruction I just couldn't motivate myself to make anything - some kind of psych block, I guess - but now I'm thinking OMG I NEED POTS!
I've mostly been making my floral slip trailed ware. I have a couple of other flowers I want to work on rendering in slip in a recognizable way, but I can feel Dotopia calling me as well.
If you would like a mug & to help support this project, you can pre-order a mug from the 1st firing at this link.
Thursday, August 26, 2021
I feel like everybody has a lot less in the tank these days, with the pandemic stress piled on top of all the usual stressors, and the political hostility cranked to 11 these last few years. In Maine this summer we've also had to contend with multiple heatwaves with over 90° temperatures. I'm aware that other places had it far worse at times! But this is unusual, for us, and they just keep coming. Today it will be over 90°, I have to teach an extra class in an un-air-conditioned facility (for a co-worker who has covid) where we will be firing the gas kiln.
I keep telling myself, just power thru. It won't last forever, it won't kill me, just hold on & power thru.
I've never been more delighted to welcome pumpkin spice.
The heat will probably be over today (though there is still plenty of summer left for another one, or more!) but covid won't be done until either almost everyone is vaccinated, or almost everyone gets sick. Plan A seems like the obvious better choice, but some people don't see it that way, so that stressor is not going away any time soon.
In addition, the kiln rebuild has hit some snags! The big one this week came from the delivery company, Estes Express, which was supposed to bring the brick yesterday.
They did not bring the brick yesterday.
What's more, they did not tell me they weren't bringing the brick yesterday, even after I contacted them in the morning to ask if they could narrow down the delivery time. I didn't find out until 4 pm that my brick weren't even loaded on the truck.
I know mistakes happen, but this was multiple, compounded mistakes. Then when I called this morning to reschedule the delivery, they told me the brick would be coming today - a day when I can not be here to receive them. Which I had already specifically told them.
We sorted it out, & rescheduled for tomorrow, but at this point I'll believe it when I see it. In the end it's a minor thing...just power thru it, Lori.
Updated to add: Estes Express really is a clown show! I just got an email that they have scheduled my brick delivery for today, when I have specifically told them both by email & by phone that I will not be available to take delivery today. I think I got it straightened out - again - but who the hell knows at this point. Maybe they'll show up today anyway, & I won't be here! Maybe it'll come tomorrow, or maybe I'll wait around all day & then they'll say "oops!"
Updated to add: The eagle has landed! The brick arrived today around noon. LET THE BUILDING BEGIN
Saturday, August 7, 2021
The kiln project is not very photogenic at this stage! But it is coming along. The old kiln is gone - or rather it is in stacks of (mostly reusable!) brick in pallets in the kiln yard. The plumbing is disconnected, the rubble brick (mostly) in my truck waiting for a dump run.
One bummer note: I cancelled my participation in the Common Ground Fair. I thought I could squeeze in a kiln rebuild & still have pots for the event but...well, maybe I still could have! But there were too many things that had to go exactly right for that to happen. The big one that loomed for me is that the burners are scheduled to be delivered the first week in September. There's like an 8-week lag between order & receipt. The kiln itself will be built by then but obviously I won't be able to fire without burners...and then it will take some time to get them plumbed, and I can't schedule the propane guy until the burners have arrived...and what if they come a week late? That's something neither I nor Tyler can control. I decided to cancel out of hte fair while they still have plenty of time to fill in an alternate.
To my surprise, they offered me a booth refund! I think this might be a pandemic thing but either way it was very generous. That money will go directly to the kiln project.
Back from my dump run! As always I saw lots of bald eagles, including this guy:
Sunday, July 11, 2021
...or so a wise friend once told me! By that metric I am done the deconstruction of the kiln.
I took down the stack, down the the level of the shed roof. I stopped there because I am going to need some pallets to put the soft brick on, rather than the wet ground; and also because it seemed like a good place to stop. I am not crazy about heights, so I am relieved to get all the roof-of-the-shed work out of the way.
- Get some pallets! I think Portland Pottery has some, or sometimes hardware stores give them away; in a pinch I could always buy pallets
- Take down the rest of the stack
- Borrow some post jacks to jack the arch form up under the arch. I need to lift the weight of the brick so I can remove them without destroying them.
- After that it's just brick by brick until only the angle iron frame is left. That'll be fun, getting that to the dump.
Saturday, July 10, 2021
(As a side note, Mainely Pottery is for sale! 5 waterfront acres in Belfast, Maine - a shopping destination - with a long-established business. There are 2 buildings - a full pottery studio & the gallery - and plenty of room to put up a little house or a yurt, if you wanted to live there or supplement pottery sales with AirBnB. As you can see, I have given this some thought! If you have a little money or are the kind of person banks don't laugh their collective asses at, this is your chance to live the dream: make & sell pots on the coast of Maine. Me, I'd have to win the lottery a little to make this work but you? Maybe you could do it.)
Ok, back about me! After weeks of talking about it, today I am taking the first steps in the kiln-rebuild process: ordering the shelves & beginning the arduous task of taking down the old kiln. I'll start with the stack, which means (EEK) a ladder on the roof the get to the highest courses of brick. Not sure how long this will take but the answer is "forever" if I don't get started.
Sunday, July 4, 2021
Call it the law of old kilns: my last few firings - all of the ones I have done since scheduling the rebuild - have been amazing. This one is no exception. I used about 6 lbs of soda (1/2 ash, 1/2 bicarbonate) in a 20(ish) cf kiln.
It remains to be seen if I can budget the time to fill the new kiln in a timely manner; I mean, I will, because I'll have to, but whether I can do it & still keep all of my classes is the question.
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Friday, June 18, 2021
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
The first raku of the 2021 season was a great success! It was a promising beginning. I made some minor adjustments to the kiln, trying to get that perfect fuel/oxygen balance in the firing chambers, the perfect interval of time between pulling the pots from the chamber & placing them in the post-firing reduction chambers (which is a fancy way of saying, piles of sawdust under trash cans!)
This flame? The perfect backpressure.
We got some fabulous results; some from Laguna glazes, some from mixed glazes. Next session my
|This one is FAB - I actually do have this|
|R-13, a glaze available from Laguna|
|I don't have this White Crackle recipe, sorry!|
|Bright Buff, also available from Laguna|