A new direction ( possibly)

The first ever visit I had to a professional potter was to Milland pottery in Liphook, they were older than I was and were the new wave of studio potters.They had set up in the late 40’s and were very very good,they threw most of their ware and it was fired in an oil kiln to very high earthenware 1190/1200. I still use some of the pots I bought from them and still enjoy them 35 years later,alas they are no longer with us but their pots live on, there is some in the Dome museum in Brighton.WP_20150727_11_36_00_Pro


I took the plunge and changed. I made a new clay up with 25% local clay, a sticky yellow dug from the graveyard and trenches nearby.WP_20150722_07_37_44_ProWP_20150722_07_41_15_ProWP_20150722_13_30_34_ProWP_20150811_12_45_01_Pro


The firing was very odd, I had packed the kiln and put a small flame in overnight, when in the morning I put the the pyrometer on, the thermo couple ( probe wot goes in the firing chamber ) it said 119 but after an hour there was a bright orange glow? very strange. I tried another pyro and this said 1650 ,absolute nonsense.( I ruddy hate pyro’s ),so it was down to the cones 3-4-5 soon there was a slight bend on 3 1140c. at five hours all the cones were down in one part of the kiln so had to shut it down, am now waiting for the cool down and to open it to see what went on,very strange.

Three days later after it had all cooled down, I took down the front wall ( wicket ) to find that the whole thing had underfired dramatically, despite the cones going over. I found out the thermocouple wasn’t actually protruding into the kiln .Always a good move to have it the heat you need to measure.But that doesn’t explain the cones going over.WP_20150811_16_44_13_Pro


I bricked it back up again to fire again with the last of my cones going in,the thermocouple going in in  a different spot .


Ah well,start all over again this time with some new cones and the thermo couple ( probe) actually sticking into the chamber. Same as before I left a burner in on a low overnight. In the morning the pyro,actually working, said 268 degrees c,which speeds things up. There was a quick rise until 730 when it stuck for a while, with manipulation shifted it until 940. I reduced, then it really did get stuck no amount of manipulation would get it going again until I started in desperation to stoke long bits of wood through the burner holes. This started it all off up again, the wood was not smoking so I continued with wood until all the cones went over,phew .WP_20150811_16_44_18_Pro


Three days later and some peeking, I opened up the kiln to find out whether the whole new direction thing had worked. With some relief it had for the most part,some of the local slips had worked very well,  some not so,the green slip reduced massively and went red,not too sure of the quality of it.WP_20150814_001WP_20150814_07_25_42_Pro

I tested one of the vases for water tightness and three days later the bottom was dry, also the strength was very good having dropped a mug by mistake.


This may well be the forward for me.




About timbartell

I was born in a flat in Lambeth the name of which was, Wedgewood house,China walk estate.I'd forgotten this until recently,it dawned on me the significance of the names after I had become interested in pottery/ceramics.I think of myself as a potter in the most practical sense,making pots for people to use.I have never had any formal training,I took it up when the table tennis class was full.My first flat was in the same road as a pottery centre, Elmwood pottery, the best in London, 18 sessions a week and a real community. I love my craft and bore everyone with it, so am grabbing this chance to bore more people via this blog.There may be the odd interesting item, here's hoping.
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