Kilner: Let’s Talk About Bricks Baby

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Let’s talk about bricks, the base refractory material for most kilns. It turns out there aren’t that many highly refractory materials found out there in the world, I’m talking about 1000degrees Celsius plus, especially coast effective ones. The world is essentially a giant kiln the molten core heating the glazed surface we live on, but natural rocks do not make good refractories, oxidizing, melting or exploding happens before high temperatures are reached. When it comes down to it we’ve got Kaolinite (Al2O3•2SiO2•2H2O)- clay! Go figure. Appropriate clays are often mixed with grog and molded into what we call Firebrick. Firebrick comes in a variety of durabilities for various heat exposures from “Superduty” to “Low Heavy Duty”. Firebrick comes in standardized sizes (see illustration) and as “hard” or “soft”. Soft firebrick has numerous air pockets that aid in insulation. It is important to remember that when heating a kiln all the brick must be heated before the temperature f chamber itself can really rise to high temperatures. Dense “hard” brick takes a considerable amount of energy to heat. All bricks have various characteristics appropriate to various firing temps or parts of a kiln. For instance the fire box of a wood kiln or soda ports of a soda kiln must be extremely durable, where as arch construction must not disintegrate over time to keep form and prevent the collapse of kiln. Brick in salt kilns that form a glaze over time help to flux and emit salt with each firing. Raku kilns must be made of shock resistant brick for the kiln is opened rapidly and great rapid loss inevitable. Bricks!

For more info. on bricks I would suggest consulting The Kiln Book or Kilns by Daniel Rhodes.

Kiln(er): Friends and Kilns

Kilns are often hidden. As I say in describing this category they lack an online presence, but I might have it wrong when clicks lead to more clicking I end up slowly mentally mapping kilns across North America. For where there are kilns there are friends. Chris Pate certainly knows that and has posted photos and a small blurb about the kilns he has helped fire in Oregon. Check it!

http://www.chrispateceramics.com/kilns-and-friends.html

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Kiln(er): Kilns are often overlooked and certainly lack an online presence. They are a fundamental and endlessly interesting bit of the ceramic process. Thus under “kilner” (what I am affectionately referred to by a friend and what really perhaps all ceramists could be aptly called) we will explore the wonderful back breaking, hair singeing world of kilns.

Kilner: Japanese Kiln Diagrams

I have owned The Japanese Pottery Handbook for many many years. Illustrated by Lucy Kitto it is a charming volume. It has the simplest and best summary of Japanese kilns I have seen. Take a gander.

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Kiln(er): Kilns are often overlooked and certainly lack an online presence. They are a fundamental and endlessly interesting bit of the ceramic process. Thus under “kilner” (what I am affectionately referred to by a friend and what really perhaps all ceramists could be aptly called) we will explore the wonderful back breaking, hair singeing world of kilns.

Kiln(er): The Tin Man

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The Tin Man is not just a beloved Wizard of Oz character he is a kiln with two bury boxes (hands) in Portland, definitely not Kansas. Thanks to an active instagram account [tinmansgands] I was just able to witness the most recent Tin Man firing to Cone 11 (mmmm a toasty 1300 degrees celcius is) using two cords of wood, 35 gallons of oil and taking 65 hours of stoking that just wrapped up today. I can’t wait until the crew unloads. Rest assured they will all sleep well from exhaustion and dream on dense diverse glaze services. Waiting for a kiln to cool, especially an atmospheric firing, is a unique endeavour. It is the elation and anxiety felt on a monthly tower service (Mine was today.. Books and food! Books and food!), milestone birthday, a childhood believer’s Christmas morning and good first kiss all compounded, sort of. For what seasoned potter doesn’t know that though there may be a gem this enthusiasm will be curbed with the rest, an appreciation that takes some time and a few inspections to follow. Anyways, all those with no kiln access or simply kiln curiosity can be a part of their firings by proxy! The most intriguing thing about the Tine Man is how it functions socially. Owning a kiln means owning land and well, that is increasingly not the reality for contemporary potters and especially young urbanite ones. Woodfiring has always meant community and teamwork but this kiln expands the idea of community. “The Tine Man Kiln is a tool for independent makers, experimental education and social change”! The kiln is sadly being asked to move and the project intends to endure some upheaval.

Please leave a comment if you know of any other kilns initiatives like this! I am intrigued and always looking for a soda kiln.

Check out the website: http://www.tinmanshands.org

In The Studio: Everyday Ungulates

So now that you have seen that crazy schedule, you need to meet the team that made it happen! I did get to break now and then, to eat. Thus, last Monday I found myself out at El Taco with a friend discussing names for my beat up little electric kilns. Here they are!

Elenor is my bisque kiln, she got to stoneware temp. once, but it took here two days to get there! So Henry is my ol’ reliable and  my glazing kiln. A friend asked the other day “whether or not I like the work I was making”? I must admit sometimes I come across as not liking my work. That is because I am always jut a wee bit dissatisfied. It is the quest of perfection that keeps me forever making. I love “imperfections” in accordance to industry standards. The human element, the marks of the fingers embedded in the glaze, that extra drip of slip to me that is what make beautiful pots beautiful. I must admit that every once in a while I catch myself squealing with joy in the dark dank basement in the middle of the night just because I love what I am doing. Like when this set came out of the bisque:

Here is a peak at what I ended up with and the beginnings of my new product line “Everyday Ungulates”. If you have any questions, comments or requests please don’t hesitate to ask, I am always taking orders! Without further adui I introduce to you:

The Mountain Goats

The Caribou & Rams

The Elk

My pots are currently for sale at the 16th Annual Christmas Craft Faire at the Hume Hotel in Nelson. Tomorrow is your last chance to get your hands on them!

In the studio: Updates on studio work pictures and anecdotes posted up all about the secret life of potters, this one in particular.