Wednesday, November 25, 2009

delays, delays, delays.

Well...the kilns 3/4 loaded. We're heading off to the Dallas area in the morning and we'll be back on Saturday so I'll have to finish loading then. The firing is set for next Wednesday...hopefully(it was supposed to be today!) I'm not sure why but I haven't been able to fire on the scheduled dates with this kiln, there's always been a delay. Oh well, unloading the day before the home sale is no big deal, right? I have more than enough pots without it, in fact most of these will just go into storage. I'm trying to get ahead with my inventory, I'd like to not have to pack up my showroom every time I head off to a show.

This firing is a bit of a gamble, I'm not getting my hopes too high and I'm expecting some losses. I'm sure it will fire out just fine but I've never fired with all glazed work so I'm not sure how the flame/ash is going to interact with the work. That can be both good and bad. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I have a ceramics 1 students who has been complaining for awhile about his tools that went missing. Turns out he put them inside one of his slab pots(why???) and I bisque fired them. Ha!

Happy thanksgiving to all my American friends and happy Nov. 26th to everyone else.


holiday sale!

Annual holiday sale Dec. 5th 10am-5pm & Dec. 6th 12pm-5pm. Coffee, cider, cookies and all that good stuff. Lots and lots of pots!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

fixin' kilns...texas style.

As I mentioned in a previous post my kiln has been doing a little walking...about an inch. This is my own fault, I was supposed to install some bracing but my welder is kaput and I don't know anyone with a generator-run welder that I can borrow. I also have never put the "stucco" coat over the arch and walls. The kiln was done enough and I needed to fire so those things fell to the wayside. Now I have to deal with it...perhaps I have the makings of a to-do list for the xmas break.

A 3000# winch strap and a board can move a kiln, pretty cool. I'm surprised this actually worked.

After the 2 minutes required to fix the kiln I went to grinding kiln shelves. Not one of my favorite tasks but it has to be done. I'm a "bare minimum" shelf grinder, if it ain't bubbling up I'm not grinding it.

The goats have taken a liking to the dogs and like to stand right outside the fence while Kaylee barks incessantly at them. We don't have any adorable babies around but we are pretty excited about our little goats so there will probably be a few picture of them popping up now and again.

Well...back to glazing. I have all these glazes and now I have too many choices so I'm spending way too much time trying to decide what glaze to use. Deciding how to load these is gonna be a task for sure!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It's been a few years since I've had more than 2 glazes. Now I have 6. I've been doing some exhaustive glaze testing for the past few months and have some promising glazes to work with. My next firing is going to be all glazed work, no slips, no salt(well, some residual salt.) If I can keep the top shelf from blistering I'll be good to go. The next firing is coming up real fast...better get some wood chopped.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

walk the walk.

I brought a couple of yunomi up to school for visual aids the other day, one by my friend Kent Harris which I use all the time and one by Randy Johnston which I've owned for 7 years but have never used. We have high on a kitchen shelf about 15 or so yunomi that I've collected over the years and have been there for the last 3 years and sat on another shelf for the 3 years before that. We have many more, some that we use all the time, but these shelved yunomi are where they are either because of their financial "value" or sentimental value. This RJ cup is up there because of the price I paid for it. It seemed very expensive at the time(2002) but today it would be on the pricier side though not unreasonable(his actual current prices border on unreasonable.)

The point is that I've never really taken the time to understand this cup, I've never used it...or any of the cups up there. Since I've had it in my studio I've been picking it up and handling it multiple times a day...tomorrow I may even rinse the dust out of it and use it. I've discovered a lot just by encountering it on a table's like owning a brand new cup. I heard an interview with Davie Renaeu...can't remember where...but she was talking about dropping a Clary Illian cup and how it was heartbreaking but at least she had gotten to use that cup every day. If it had sat up on a shelf it may have never broken but she would have never gotten the pleasure of being able to use it and handle it everyday. Sort of a "better to have loved and lost..." mentality. So what's the point of all this blither? I'm going to get all those cups down, wash them and put them in the cupboard and then use them. There are a few that are particularly "valuable" to us so they may only see occasional use...but use nonetheless.

The RJ cup.

By the way...RJ can trim a foot like no ones business. I've got some dessert plates that he made that have such nice feet they should be used upside down.

I took some photos of new pots but wouldn't you know it they're all blurry. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Firing IV.

The firing was ok, not good or great but ok. I reduced the kiln too much and ended up with a lot of brown pots which are perfectly salable but not at all what I wanted. That being said there were a few pots that were exceptionally nice. I went into this firing with a bit of apprehension because the last firing I had was pretty much a perfect firing...I had discovered magic and didn't know if I could do it again. I like to think I know a lot but really I'm still a newbie to this whole wood firing thing and probably it is a set of skills that can never be truly mastered(that's probably why I like it so much.) I often times set expectations far too high for myself and then get angry when I can't reach them. I'm bummed about the color on the pots but I'm certainly happy and excited to have what I consider to be another successful firing under my belt.

When I get bummed about firing results I like to think about firing #3 in my first wood kiln...I opened the door to what looked like a good firing and discovered I'd made an error too foolish to mention and had about a 75% failure rate. This firing had less than a 5% failure rate which is pretty darn good. The pots are ok and will eventually sell and I'll go on and make more and there will be good firings and bad ones and the cycle will repeat ad nauseam until I die. I'd better get used to it.

The top of the front stack...this area and the flu stack were the nicest.

Bleh...brown pots.

I had a shelf come off one of the props and I have no idea how that happened. The only thing holding this up was that it was stuck to the other two props...must've happened late in the firing. I only lost the two yunomi and the lidded jar...a bit of a serendipitous disaster.

The student and the master...sometimes it's good to be reminded which one I am.

Here are 2 pieces of advice; 1: Keep a clear firing log. 2: If you haven't fired your kiln is six months think logically about your poorly written observations. "2/3" under the damper column is not very informative, though it may seem logical at the time. Anyone who has fired any type of fuel kiln can tell you that firing with the damper 2/3 in is going to give you a strong reduction. Why did I not consider this? I was probably too busy thinking about how I've got this wood firing thing down. Duh- 2/3 out or 1/3 in, you friggin dingleberry.

I'll post more photos when I get a chance.


Friday, November 13, 2009

firing IV knocked out of the park.

I figure since Kline has abandoned the roman numerals I'll pick them up for awhile...though I probably won't be putting them on my pots anytime soon.

Cone 10 down...I extended this firing out to 7 hours, up from 6 the previous firing. I'm planning on doing a "glaze" firing in the next load so I spent some time playing with the passive damper trying to slow down the firing at the end. I've never really used it other than to help even out the kiln if it needed it.

Here is the wood that is left over...this is a pretty efficient kiln. And I didn't even have to use much of the f-up lumber(as I like to call it.)

Well, now it's 45 hours of waiting to see if I've been blessed or cursed. My next post will be #250 so I think I'll save that for the unloading.

Now I'm going to go dig a chunk of wood(not a splinter) out of my finger...that's the price of woodfiring. I don't mind, the pots are worth it. Maybe I should wear gloves....oh yeah.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

ready to go.

The kilns all ready to go...I'll start first thing in the morning.

Here is the firebox length wood...with a goat on top. I need to remember to shut the door behind me when I go to the barn. That shorter stack on the left is 1/2 - 3/4 length for stoking if the kiln is uneven. This wood goes into the kiln above the grates once it hits red heat...12-1300 degrees.

These short blocks are 10-15" and are split into smaller pieces while the kiln is firing. They are used for the beginning all the way up to about 1200 degrees and are stoked below the grates to keep the flame from touching the pieces before red heat. The first half of the firing is fairly boring when you are by yourself so I keep a stack of wood to chop to keep myself occupied. I have a chopped stack ready to go so that I don't ever get short on wood.

The kiln has been walking a bit...about 3/4" so far. I was able to put clamps on the kiln and move it back about 1/4". I've heard that sometimes these kilns walk out and then walk back in, but that doesn't seem to be happening here. The kiln isn't an arch all the way to the ground...the firebox is a vertical wall about 3' tall with the arch on top of that and no bracing, so I should probably fix that.

I haven't fired in about 6 months so I thought I would start a small fire to be safe in case there is any moisture. I took it up to 250 degrees in about an hour and then clammed it up when the temp started to fall. It should be just over 100 when I go out in the morning and then I'll let her rip.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Monday, November 9, 2009


I finished loading the kiln last night at about 9pm.

Here are the pots that made it in. There were also 2 large platters, 2 medium platter/bowls and a dozen taller pieces...all of these pots but 2 made it in the kiln, I think it was 185 pieces in all.

I ran out of room in the barn so I had to keep some outside.

The kiln cleaned out and ready to start loading. I stack the back 2 sets of 12x24's and the 10x20's by the flu first. When those are done I do one more 12x24 stack in the front.

I glue the wads onto all the pieces as I load them. I used to wad them and then carry them out to the kiln but it's about 100 yards and they don't always balance well on boards with the wads already on. The glue keeps them in place in case I want to pick a piece up and move it, otherwise the wads fall off.

How I stack plates. I like to stack the plates high so the weight warps them and gives the rim a little wobble.

3/4 done...all that's left is the front stack of shelves.

Finished...9 hours later.

Hopefully firing on Wednesday...though maybe not until Friday. I have a lot going on at school this week and may not be able to get away.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

pots and goats.

Loading the kiln, it's about halfway there. I'm also having to fend off the goats and keep them from knocking over the 200 or so pots that are laying around. They like to climb on things and play king of the my wood piles.

More later.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

back to work.

I'm still here working like a dog. I've been glazing pots this evening and hopefully will finish glazing and decorating tomorrow and if the gods are kind I will begin loading the kiln tomorrow night.

The Elmer Taylor workshop went the afternoon we had about 40 people, standing room only. A nice problem to have sometimes. In true workshop fashion he didn't make too many pots but told lots of stories...along with many of his teaching/educational stories. Very entertaining.

Some of his pots. He decorates with slip immediately after it's thrown and while it's still attached to the wheel. He's very fast and very spontaneous. I've never much cared for Elmer's pots...not that they're bad, they just don't speak to me. But as I've gotten to know him better this last year they've started to grow on me. I certainly enjoy his personality, he speaks his mind, has solid opinions and can be a bit crass at times. I enjoy that.

A personal favorite.

Organizing a workshop sure is a lot more work that I thought...I'm pretty tired, think I'll hit the sack.

Well...I'll leave it at that. More to come as I load the kiln.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

it smells like goat in here.

We have a couple of new family members. Lee(white) and Harvey(black) have become our new resident weed eaters. They like to sleep and lounge in my kiln...while that is kind of adorable I fear that it's not too safe. We'll see how this pans out.