Three years ago I met Tina on a woodfiring course in Devon, when on the course we were talking as you do, a lot. She said that she had been hankering after a woodfiring kiln for a while. Three years and a bit later we helped her with the first firing.
I helped with the chimney but Tina and her hubby Graham built the kiln, apart from the chimney it was very well built.
Last weekend was the first firing , the packing took all day Friday and some of Saturday morning, along with glazing this is the most tedious of all the jobs but possibly the most important.
We started firing at 2 pm on Saturday , about half the kiln load where raw so it was softly softly up to 600 when clay turns into pot then a steady increase. I went to bed at midnight and got up at 5.30 but Tina stayed up with Tony, I felt dog tired, I think Tina must have felt a whole pack of dogs tired by then. She did pop of for some sleep but soon was back again to direct. Which is what someone does at the end, this takes judgement and decision, what to do with reduction and the final treatment of the atmosphere, I had been stoking lavender into the fire box but we finished with a lot of my apple tree prunings for a really hot quick blast.
Tony had stayed down and we all met up to crack it open on the following Wednesday, firstly the wicket/door of the kiln was taken away to reveal the results. After lunch, which allowed the wares to cool down even further, we started the great un pack. No wonder it took so long to load there were more than 240 pots in it !
There were some breakages and some bloating with my stuff due to the clay, all my pots were thrown with new bags of stoneware bought three weeks before the firing, I don’t seem to have much luck with clay. But there were some beauties and some amazing glaze effects.
All in all a very good firing and all credit must go to Tina and Graham for building a very good kiln based on a design by Joe Finch who kindly advised throughout the whole thing.
What are we going to do now ? Back in the workshop to make stuff for the next one in March 2015.