Sunday, January 25, 2009

more kiln.

I've finished the kiln chamber, all that's left is to trim wall bricks to the arch and cover it with a couple layers of fiber. Then on to the chimney.

Here is a detail of how the wall ineracts with the arch. The walls are two bricks deep(9") and are half under/half outside the arch. This helps structurally to stabalize the arch as well creating a strong semi-airtight joint where the arch meets the wall(similar to a lap joint in woodworking).

The laborious task with catenary arches is the amount of brick cutting that is needed. But there is indeed nothing prettier than a catenary arch kiln, for me anyways.

Friday, January 23, 2009

same old, same old.

I've been really busy this week, teaching has been a bit exhausting especially while getting over a cold. I've managed to get in the groove of making pots but ran out of clay yesterday but that's ok because I believe I have more than enough to fill the new kiln. I've noticed that my body had subconsciously gotten used to the potting cycle for my old kiln and when I had enough pots to fill it my body was ready to stop potting and fire. It took me a few days to get back in the potting groove, I think it's neat how our bodies adapt to things like that without our even knowing it.

My ceramicsII students have started an assignment where they have to pick a form(bowls, cups, vases, etc.) and then make 12 variations exploring various vloumes, feet, rims, etc. I decided to do the same with some teapots though I gave myself much stricter criteria. I knew I wanted a certain lid and handle as well as a basic shape. So I explored some more subtle variations in the shape which upon completion got my mind racing about more ideas. I try to keep my teapots fairly straighforward and simple so that I can sell them for a decent price, I'm not a believer in the $100 teapot.

Tall footed bowls.

I have a crap-ton(scientific term) of yunomi already but they all are slipped and I need some with my ash glaze, I'll never complain about having to make yunomi though, one of my favorites(knock on wood).

Here are a couple large-ish jars. I don't really do knobs but I felt that the lids were a little too steep for a lug type handle. Something seems off about these to me. Maybe the knobs too large? Too generic? Maybe the lids are too steep? I don't know, feel free to chime in.

Kiln, coming along. When I pulled the arch form out I didn't realize how heavy it was going to be and eventually got squashed under one end of it while trying to figure out how to move it all the way out of the kiln. I wish I had some video of that, I'm sure it was quite comical.

Slow progress. The walls are 2600 IFB on the inside backed by 2300 IFB on the outside which happen to be about 1/16" shorter than the 2600. You know what that means, friggin mortar, it slows down everything. In case you couldn't tell I'm from the no mortar(unless necessary)kiln building school. Today we had a high of 84 degrees, it was so nice outside. Right now it's around 40, drives me crazy.
I've kept forgetting for the last month to mention that I'd uploaded part of my website. It's not very good but the whole point is to have a page where someone can see photos of my work without having to scroll through my blog. It's not finished nor have I tweaked anything yet. If you've been reading my blog there is probably not anything new for you there.
So long!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

i'm still here.

Sorry I've been neglecting my blogging duties, teaching has been keeping me busy this week. I've been making a decent amount of pots considering the not so decent amount of studio time I have. The arch is up on my kiln, I'm working on the walls though running out of hardbrick for the stack, I may have to get creative. I'll get some photos up as soon as I can.

The Lost premeire last night was pretty fantastic.

Friday, January 16, 2009

oval overload.

These ovaled baking dishes have been quite popular this last year so I've been making lots of them, which of course will ensure that they are unpopular this year, way it goes.

I don't do much fluting anymore but every once in awhile the mood strikes me. These will get an ash glaze.

Here are some pots I finished up a few days ago. The board of cassroles I made a couple posts ago met their fate with the slip barrel. When I had slipped the bases I set them on a cupped ware board(dumb) and left them overnight. When the slip rehydrated the pot it warped to the shape of the board and you get the idea.

Here is whats going on with the kiln. The arch form was too large to get into the barn so I had to assemble it in place. It still needs a layer of masonite but as soon as thats on I'll be brickin this baby up.
I woke up yesterday and realized that its that time of the year, what time you may ask? The getting sick time. I've been using my non-medicinal remedies and its not gotten worse so far. That is the reason I spent the day in the toasty studio assembling pots instead of the cold barn assembling a kiln. So now I think I'll go lay on the couch, and it's friday so maybe I'll have a cheeseburger.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I received a plea via the mail from ceramics monthly to renew my subscription(from over a year ago), 66% off only $24.95 plus a free issue. I thought that maybe this was a good deal since I buy the occasional issue at one of the local book stores for full price. So I sent it off, now I'm wishing I hadn't because I've been looking through some old issues and I remembered how frustrated I'd become with the content(or lack of). My justification was that it was less than the retail of 2 mugs. I find myself pricing things with the mug lately; "sweetie, can I buy that Doug Gates treadle wheel, its only 148 mugs...."

I made a bunch of pots today but I'm lacking the photos. It seems my camera and my activity are never in the same place at the same time. I'll be busy the next couple days so they'll have to sit under plastic keith style. Watch out for an arch this weekend.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Things have slowed down a bit for me as far as studio work goes. Classes started on monday so I have been getting ready for that. This semester I have two beginning sections and one advanced section, thats a lot of work. On top of that I have 4 art fairs and 1 gallery show this spring, hmmmmm....have I over done it again? Probably. In my free time today I'm going to try and start cutting the arch form, hopefully I'll have it up this weekend, it's all downhill from there. Now I just have to make some pots to put in the kiln.....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

come on already.

Yesterday we hit 81 degrees, today its 28. Friggin texas.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I'm making some good progress on the kiln. It took me awhile to get the firebox sorted out, the hard brick are a 1/16" difference in height than the softbrick. That doesn't sound like much but 4 courses up it would be a 1/4" off so this has to be taken care of right off the bat. Once I got up to the floor level things sped up a bit. It doesn't look all that big in the photo but thing is monstrous to me. When its finished it will over 5' wide, 8' long and over 8" from the ground to the top of the chamber(though the chamber itself will be just over 5' inside). I've never built or fired a kiln this large before, when I was in college it was a small program so the kilns were small. I suppose it will be weird to commit that much work to a kiln at first.

Nothing left of the old guy but the bracing for the door. I kind of like that stokehole door floating there in space, I may leave it for awhile. The swinging doors will not be making an appearance on the new kiln, I'll have to kick it old school and brick the door up.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

movin brick.

I had my trip to the oral surgeon yesterday morning, spent yesterday doped up, slept 12 hours last night and today I felt fantastic! I got up on the barn roof and started taking down the chimney and finished removing the firebox.

What's left of the old kiln.

I've sorted the brick into certain piles that would make sense to no one else but me. I have a couple different grades of both hard and soft brick and many pieces that are cut so I have it all seperated so I know where to look while I'm building.

I've started building the new one before the old one was completely torn down because I'm running out of room to stack brick. Here is a nifty little tip I picked up in the Ruggles/Rankin articles in Studio Potter about building floors. Using bricks cut longways(soaps) on the perimeter over the first layer and then a third layer of hard brick without the soaps creates a floor with no gaps. The traditional method overlaps the bricks only on the ends and therefore leaves a gap all the way down, this method creates the closest you can come to an airtight floor. Very simple and straightforward yet not something I would've ever thought of on my own.

Here is my old salt kiln built in ealry spring 2004 and fired 30+ times in 2.5 years. The majority of the bricks in my wood kiln are salvaged from this guy. When I built this I paid $1.45 for straight empire(high duty) hardbricks, I found a deal on the arch bricks which were clippers(super duty) and I paid $1 each. All of the soft brick were seconds that I purchased from Larkin Furnace for $1 each. These were some good deals but when you consider there is a couple thousand brick+ in this kiln it adds up. I priced bricks about 4 months ago and empires were $3.55 and clippers were $4.65. The softbrick can be found for $2.50-4.00. Who can afford to buy new bricks nowadays? It's ridiculous, I'm so thankful for the folks that have let me salvage their kilns so I can build a new one.

Here is a wheel I traded some pots for from a guy here in town. I gave some thought to building a bench and using it korean/japanese style but I don't really have the space for all that so now I'm thinking of stripping the bearings and wheelhead to build a treadle wheel, I've always wanted to have one but I really want to build my own. Eh, we'll see what happens, don't be on the lookout for that anytime soon.

That's all I have for now, so long.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year.

I don't really have much else to say. Here are a couple of pots that I have set aside so that I can absorb them for awhile, I didn't do enough of that this year. They are of course open to criticism, my wife hates the yellow and I love it, I've found the yellows to be elusive like copper reds. These were fired in the last firing.

The kiln is coming along, I haven't gotten as much done as I would have liked because of the drugs, but every little bit helps. I am going to Austin tomorrow to pick up some clay both for myself and the school. I have found a source with enough scrap wood for I'm guessing 2 years worth of firings if I can sweet talk the man, keep your fingers crossed.

So long.