Thursday, September 30, 2021

Up On The Roof...

Took a break from making pots for the far-too-far-off first firing of the new kiln to address a leak in the roof of my summer studio. The shed that serves as the studio was a half-assed affair 13 years ago when Doug built it out of found materials, but it has served well enough. Earlier this summer I noticed some water was getting in when it rained hard, and then when it rained at all. What with the kiln rebuild, my classes, making ware, &, the repair kept getting bumped to the bottom of the to-do list but I finally made it up the ladder, and good thing, too! 

The asphalt paper we used for the roofing material had been torn, maybe in a windstorm. A big flap of it was loose, letting water in under the remaining part. That got wet & stayed wet in our massively rainy summer & fall, and became host to an extremely yukky nest of black ants. The wood got punky in some spots & the ants just chewed highways in others. 

I'd have taken a video of the ants boiling up out of the wood, but I was too UUUURRRRRRGGGGHH while pinwheeling away in revulsion & also trying not to fall off the roof. So, maybe video next time. By a weird coincidence, you know how Amazon occasionally screws up & sends you something you didn't order? Just a couple of weeks ago, a spray bottle of clove-based ant & roach killer arrived. I don't have roaches & didn't know I had ants, but I saved it anyway. It came in handy! I brushed away all the nasty ants & as many of their nasty eggs as I could, then sprayed the whole area with this clove spray. 

I've covered the whole thing with a heavy tarp - it rained last night & will rain tomorrow, & that patch of roof needs to dry completely before I shingle over it. If I can't get more than a one-day stretch of no rain, I may go up with a heat gun & try to dry it while hopefully not setting anything on fire. What it really needs is the roof pulled off & the plywood replaced, but that is not in the cards this season - maybe in the spring. 

This calls for a song: 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Potters Plan, God Laughs

Check out the snazzy new pivot-hinge door tho! 

Ok, let's play Good News, Bad News:

Good News: Construction on the kiln is completed! We finished up on Wednesday, with Tyler welding the bolt mechanisms for the door, while I glazed the interior of the kiln & brushed the protective coating on the inside of the door. I still need to wash the contact wall of the opening, but other than that...we've done all we can do. 

Bad News: I can't fire until mid-November. The holdup? Getting the propane connected. It has just generally been hard to schedule...well, basically anything home or building related for like a year now. (Last spring when I was trying to get my house painted, I left messages with maybe 7 companies before anyone even called me back. Most were scheduling for 2022 at that time. I did manage to get the job done, though.) Fall is also a busy time of year for those in the heating industry! So it'll be mid-November before Suburban Propane can come out. 

I keep reminding myself, this is more of a nuisance than a crisis, & that despite being eager to fire, this will only cause me to have a crap holiday season - which sucks but I can be a little frugal for a little while; it will be fine. 

Those of you who have pre-ordered mug from the first firing: thank you so much for your patience! I do have all the mugs, plus many extra, made & waiting to be bisqued. If you would like to pre-order a mug from the first firing, you can do so at this link. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Neat Trick!


I learned a great trick fromTyler, while we were working on the kiln! If there's a horsey person in your life, you recognize this: it's a curry brush. It's also a great tool for shaving softbrick, when you need to remove just a little bit, to fit an odd shape or to flatten the face of a softbrick wall: 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

With My Freeze Ray


Just kidding - this is actually one of the snazzy new burners for the kiln. I just thought it looked more like a sci-fi weapon. 
We didn't quite get these positioned today, but we did get the door completed! I am so excited to have a door on this kiln. You know that moment when you place the last pot on the shelf, & think "Whew, I'm done! Hot bath here I come" followed immediately by "OH &#%@ I STILL HAVE TO BRICK THE DOOR?" Well, those moments are done for me forever. 
The door is on a pivot hinge, to accommodate the space between the kiln & the shed. 
Probably not a lot more progress will happen this week, until the bolts arrive for the door. I do have to make a few changes to the stack - or more correctly, I have to swap out some brick. There are a few brick from the old stack that I am not 100% sure are superduty - & I do need superduty for the bag wall. I should have used the dubious brick in the stack, where it won't matter, because (obviously!) it doesn't get nearly as hot.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Stack, The Arch, & More

Achievement unlocked: the stack is up! As is the arch. 

Tyler built the angle iron frame & laid the brick for the arch on Monday. Sadly I was not able to be here for that! Trying to work around my teaching schedule was going to delay construction, and I really really need a kiln. I have orders piling up! Anyway, I came home Monday night to a completed arch, with a blanket of insulating kaowool. We removed the form in the morning & laid a layer of Quikcrete. I had a brief moment of wishing I hadn't discarded the boxes of broken pottery bits I used to save, thinking one day I might make a mosaic! I decided a couple decades ago that I am probably not going to make a mosaic! & even if I wanted to, there are plenty of shards in the world. But I am kind of enjoying the sleekness of the plain concrete finish. If I change my mind I could always add another thin layer of concrete & lay buttons & mug handles & porcelain doll heads in that. 

We built the stack yesterday as well. There was a little design question to resolve: what material to use for the upper portion of the stack. Technically, to fire, the stack only needed to reach the top of the arch, because this kiln will utilize forced-air burners. (More on that later, but here's the scoop from Ward Burner on the differences.) But in order for the hot gas escaping the kiln to vent above the roof of the shed, the stack has to reach that high, and do so without creating a draw that would interfere with the firing. 
Options: a piece of culvert, elevated above the last brick layer to let air in (ugly, will need to be replaced every couple of years); a double-walled stainless steel tube, also elevated, made for kilns & such (less ugly, more durable but spendy - maybe $300 for a 3 foot length) or...hey, we've got all these brick! 
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. 

Next, the door, the burners, the plumbing - that last bit will be the hold up, since it will happen just whenever the propane tech can get here. 

If you'd like ot support this project or just want a great new mug, you can pre-order a mug from the first firing at this link

Friday, September 10, 2021

Walls UP!

 We made a lot of progress on Wednesday! Next is the angle iron exoskeleton, then the back wall, then the arch, then the rest of the stack. Last will be the plumbing, and that will require a licensed propane technician to complete. The timing for that is out of my hands, & unfortunately it might take a while! It was going to take a month for him to come un-plumb, when I was in the deconstruction phase. I begged & pleaded & they did finally accommodate me, but that probably won't work a second time. So, we're probably looking at mid to late October before the kiln will be serviceable. 

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.