Wednesday 26 September 2007

Packing them in

The way a kiln is packed affects the finished outcome of the pots. The height of the shelves and the space between pots can be adjusted to control flame flow.

In this firing the shelves are close together towards the bottom and spaced wider at the top in order to force flame flow up the fire face rather than let it flow through the kiln lower down.
The pots are arranged also in alternating rows to make the flame travel diagonally through the stack. I have done this because I want to have stronger ash and flame effects on the pots at the back of the kiln which are mainly unglazed, and by so doing reduce the amount of ash that carries through to the front of the kiln where I have placed black glazed dinner plates.

The wine goblets have "Igusa" straw tied around the stems, any excess from which will fall into the "Kumidashi" tea cups which fit into the space between their stems.

Too much ash on the black glaze waters it down and turns it a honey colour. I try to keep the straw off the black glaze for the same reason, but want to have markings on the rim.

Pyrometric cones are placed top and bottom to measure the heat work inside the kiln. Made from the same materials as glazes, they will melt at set temperatures. I always put in cones for 1260, 1280 and 1300 degrees celsius.

The last thing to do is close the kiln door, which entails stacking about 200 bricks into the kiln mouth. To prevent grains of sand or dust from falling into the pots at the front of the kiln and spoiling the glaze, I dip the bricks into a tub of water as I stack the door. This also reduces the major health risk of dust in the air.

Once the door is stacked I seal the top with fire clay and it's ready to fire tomorrow.

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