Sunday, August 5, 2012

temple firing

we decided early on that we will fire just the front chamber of the three chambered kiln, The Temple. josh suggested that the pipe clay, which he locally digs out of a farmland, high in iron turns really beautiful cranberry red/ deep brown in the front chamber with a specific kind of firing- with slow reduction cooling. so i kept aside all the pipe clay works for the front chamber of the temple.
we loaded the fornt with works by me, josh and dustin. mostly unglazed ware. joey sheen, a wonderful potter who is an integral part of all the firings at josh's kiln-space loaded the second chamber with his glaze-ware.the third chamber was filled with josh's large scale works, which will later go into The Shark, the anagama kiln which we will fire in the coming week, and the third chamber would reach just the bisque temperature.
we loaded on the 23 and 24th july and started the fire on the 24th midnight. josh started the fire and fired the night shift and the morning shift. joey and will took over in the afternoon, when me and dustin visited them in the evening the kiln was at 1441 F (782 C- yes thats the first things i did, once we set the firing date, to download a converter app into my iphone, turtle). they were stoking the front, with 4-5 medium looking logs, and by the time we left at around 7.40pm cone 08 was down at the back stack of the front chamber.
dustin and me got back to asheville, to pack up and hv a shower. dustin picked me up from my place at 11.15 pm and we got to the kiln-space at 11.45. the kiln looked beautiful, in the dark night. staring from the midnight till 2.30 we were just stoking the front, building up the heat. by 2.30am cone 7 and cone 5 were down at both the back stacks and cone 1 was showing movement. at 2.33 we started stoking the side stoke holes. 2.33 to 5.15am all three took in charge of three different stokes- josh stoking both the sides with long thin pieces of wood, dustin stoking the front centre with really thick logs of wood, and me stoking the base of the firebox, with lots of thin/short pieces of wood- its felt like the perfect synchronized arrangement.  
at 5.15 am we closed the front bottom stoke hole and just continued stoking both the side stoke holes and the front centre. 
at around 6am josh took the long shovel and picked up the ambers from the ashpit and threw it on the pots- trying to reach as far and wide as possible. 
by 7.25 am we got cone 9 and cone 10s down in most places, but some cones refused to go down at the back bottom stack. so at 7.30 josh decided to do the 'wood-pig' technique- the name was very new to me. he took a bunch of thin long pieces of wood and filled the side stoke holes- so the holes were filled so much that there was hardly any place to put more wood in/ but becoz the pieces are so long that they stick out of the hole, till they burn real slow and fall into the kiln. this way, there is constant heat but you are also introducing air into the kiln as you are not closing the stoke hole completely with a brick. 
the 'woodpig' was just magical, it did wonders- in one hour we got all the cones down.
by 8.28am we got all the cones down, stopped stoking the side stokes by 9am, but continued stoking the front. 
josh introduces charcoal, once the front reaches the temperature. so at this point, charcoal was filled into long panels and was thrown inside the kiln through the side stokes and the front. 
10.20 we closed the door. front was done. 
joey started the fire at the second chamber at 10.10.
josh does, what he calls as 'slack reduction cooling'. the whole of the front is sealed and closed except for one tiny brick opening in the front centre. you continue to stoke the front with tiny/short/thin pieces of wood (almost) every 7 minutes. this goes on till the second chamber reaches the temperature and we end the firing all together- the second chamber takes anything between 8-12 hours to reach the temperature from this point. so i continued to stoke these tiny pieces. ah i forgot to mention that we didnt hv the pyrometer this firing- well we had one, but it stopped working few hours into the firing. so we did the whole firing by looking at the color or the cones. so usually when the pyro works, by the time the second chamber is done the fornt would hv cooled down to 1600 degrees F. this time, we just made sure that the color remains bright orange, hot in the front, and maintained this throughout the time joey/billy brown and danielle fired the second chamber. 
it took around 10 hrs to get all the cones down in the sec chamber, so around 8 we were done.
we finished cleaning up, putting all the wood back, each one opened a beer and looked happily at each other...
it sure felt like a good firing.

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