As firing #5 approaches I am trying to get a little more focused on kilns and fire. I fired a small gas kiln about twice a month for most of 25 years. I could fill the kiln and be firing in 10 days if I needed to. It takes 2-3 months now to fill this kiln and I feel a little disconnected to firing with such a big gap. Plenty of time to forget whatever I might have learned the last time!
Today I took a little time to make a graph of the last firing. I wanted to see where I might make changes. The left hand column is in degrees F. in 100 degree increments, and the bottom represents each passing hour. It was a 20 hour firing. I want to lengthen the firing 2-4 hours and you can see here where the climb is a bit steep so that’s where I’ll be paying particular attention. The second red line is the salt chamber. So far, I am more satisfied with it’s results than the wood chamber. Lots to learn.
It’s been a while since I’ve made these pitchers and after looking at these photos I’ve decided that the next batch need to have short little necks…I’ve been pushing the long neck for a while and all of a sudden I feel the need to tilt the pendulum in the other direction. And so it goes…
Most of the pots I make are meant for the kitchen or the table, but I’ve also always made time to make pots for flowers and plants. The bottom of my chamber isn’t as ‘juicy’ as the rest and it’s a good place to put these.
I really enjoy slipping and glazing raw pots and that’s how I spent most of this glorious fall day. I plan to throw a bunch of teapot parts tomorrow and spend the rest of the week putting them together. I’ll start loading next Monday. I’d like to be finished by Thursday (I am a rather deliberate loader of kilns) and start the little campfire in the firebox Friday (the 17th) evening. I think Rabah and Jay will do the overnight shift. I’m starting to get excited.
On a beautiful autumn evening, Nathan and Cat were wedded on the farm where my pottery is. Great music and a simple ceremony under the gourd-laden gazebo was followed by a lovely meal of Thai food from Tarntip Restaurant and incredible cupcakes made by Elizabeth. I’m not sure that the photo is sufficient to see that the garnishes are mint leaves…and cayenne peppers. The chocolate ones were laced with mole’ spice!
I ducked out early to hang out with Hollis, who was visiting from Cape Cod for the opening of his show at LibertyTown last Friday. I’ll write a different blog about that. Hollis and I have been working together and talking about pots for a long time. He is writing an article about me for some future publication and we spent some time talking about where I’ve been and where I might be going now with my work. I’ll let you know if it gets published. Hollis wrote feature stories for years, so he ought to be able to make some sense out of my ramblings.
What well known blogger made this mug, purchased the first time we met?
Last night we hosted a reception at LibertyTown to formally introduce my friend Eric as a candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney in the City of Fredericksburg. Eric and I have been good friends for more than 25 years. He is a stellar human being and a passionate advocate for justice. His 19 years as an assistant D.A. in Stafford County has prepared him well for the job. I don’t know if any Fredericksburgers read this, but if you want to learn more please feel free to contact me.
I often fill the bottom of the kiln with planters…it’s not been a very exciting part of the kiln so far, but these work just fine. Finished preparing wood with Beth and then I threw a bunch of 5lb. lidded jars. I’ll try to take photos tomorrow. I’m on a roll and it feels good.
I find myself spending a crazy amount of time testing both glazes and slips. It’s always been so and with a new kiln (4 firings) and two different chambers, I have lots to discover. I tried an idea today that has been a long time coming. Too many ideas roll around in my head, sometimes for years, before something clicks and all of a sudden I feel I have to get down to it.
Today’s fun was adding raw carbon directly into a shino glaze before dipping pots in it. I measured out about 30 ozs. of wet glaze and then added carbon granules in 1/4 teaspoon increments. I like carbon trapping in glazes, but I’m really not interested in firing a complete kiln on a schedule that encourages it. I was teaching a workshop at Penland while Malcolm Davis and Kent McLaughlin taught a carbon trap class. Their positive results were less than 30% ! I couldn’t cope with that. But what if carbon mixed right into a glaze gives a very localized reduction? Do I dare expect little black halos in a field of orange shino? I’m no chemist, but I do love sticking things in a 2400 degree fire to see what happens.
I have a 100lb. sack that I salvaged years ago from a defunct factory that heated carbon and mixed it with oxygen to create a major component of high tech carbon plastics (think Stealth Bomber). If it’s a genius idea, I have a lifetime supply. Otherwise….maybe I can sell it on Ebay!
A few months ago there was a bunch of blogs about pots and birds. It inspired me to make a press mold of these lead birds; one of the many ideas that sit around waiting for the right nudge to be brought to fruition. I intend to use them as a knob on some bigger lidded jars but for now I’m putting them on little tile pedestals to do more glaze and slip tests.
The lead birds have a great history. There used to be an amusement park on an island just below the route 3 bridge here on the Rappahanock River. It’s hard to believe it to see the island now, it is rough and overgrown. But it was once a lively social spot that included a shooting range. A couple of years ago someone found a trunk full of the targets from that range in a basement downtown.
I’m happy to direct you to my long-time pottery friend Hollis Engley’s new blog. Hollis was a good writer long before he made pots…blogging was made for him! We used to wood fire together and he helped me build my kiln. He makes pots on Cape Cod which is too far away but
a nice place to visit.
I needed to throw some simple things the other day, so I revisited these crock/spoon pots. I’ve made thousands of them over the years. The second photo shows some more challenging pots I’m working on and a ‘cider jar’ that I’m very pleased with. We have a big show opening this Friday at Libertytown, so I’m fighting to get out to the studio this week. It’s usually pretty buggy by the time I get out there and close to pitch dark before I head home.