i just unloaded my kiln and i am real excited, though it is a bitter-sweet excitement. most of the surfaces had turned out better than i hoped. but.....i made a couple of really idiotic choices that seemed ok at the time. first, i used to raw glaze at the bone dry stage because my clay took it really well and i hate the concept of bisque firing as a professional. then i switched clay bodies a couple years ago and found out that it did not take to raw glazing and i had to return to bisque firing. for some stupid reason......i forgot the agony of that experience and repeated it. so, much of my kiln is waste because the pieces are cracked. the lucky part is that 1/3 of the firing was test glazes and slips and i didn't put any pieces of real importance in this kiln. because it was basically a trial run.
mistake #2 is that i started the preheat in the firebox instead of outside it. in college our kiln had an external firebox and we fired with bisqued pieces. a wood flame inside of a kiln is much longer than outside, so i had flames licking the pots on the fireface long before they should have been, so those are cracked even more. so i have eaten my serving of humble pie and have learned my lesson.
i've never known very many potters to get a wood kiln to temperature on the first try. the fact that i did is a testament to the design by will ruggles and douglass rankin (http://www.rockcreekpottery.com/). it fired so easily and uniformly that its almost scary. it fired in just under ten hours and i am sure that if i wanted to i could easily get it down to eight. i was able to fire this kiln in a t-shirt and didn't have to put gloves on to stoke until the last couple hours.
here is a pic of this nifty stoking door i made, the original design called for bricks to be pulled out every time, but thats too slow and lets too much cold air in.
this is a picture of my kiln mostly unloaded.
this is my woodpile. this rack was close to full when i started the firing. all the wood i use is waste wood from the construction industry and is free. it comes in lengths from 2-6 feet mostly 2x6's and 2x8's and is mostly yellow pine and some douglass fir. i use an axe to split them to smaller pieces and then cut them to the length of my firebox. to fill this rack takes about 4-5 hours not including picking up the wood.
here are some pots. i just realized that all the pots in this firing were some sort of red or brown. i use other glazes as well but for this firing i just used a couple that i knew would work.
the color seems kind of washed out on these, they are a little redder.
here are some closeups:
its little things like this that make the insanity of woodfiring all worthwhile.