Kiln building course at Forest Row school of ceramics.

I saw the ad on Joe Finch’s facebook post and as It was quite near to me I decided to attend. Katrina who’s school it is laid on really lovely weather for the whole duration.






The school is part of Emmerson college and has the most fantastic view down a valley and up to the Ashdown Forest.



It started on Friday when Joe laid out the pattern on the concrete,first came the hollow concrete block then the heavy firebricks which were a pain in the butt. They were secondhand and needed cleaning off, a hard and tedious job this affected the whole kiln. Lesson 1 when building a new kiln use new bricks ( i’d actually learnt that with mine).

In a while the kiln was growing and we were able to make a start on the chamber and were soon ready for the arch. That was worked out for a former/frame and left for the following morning. The door was cut in the bricks being numbered for easy assembly.


Saturday another lovely day despite grotty forecasts, we started with the steel work and the arch.The former was brought away and saved for just in case. We all glazed our pots and the chief stacker stacked them ready for lift off the following morning. Joe had brought gas burners that looked like a rocket booster from Apollo 12.


Sunday started at 8 with the kiln being turned on, with all the pots being biscuited the boosters made very good progress getting the temperature up to 1000 in 6 hours, that’s when the trouble started, the boosters were found to be too big and there was a lot of unburnt fuel being unburnt in the kiln. After a new strategy was sorted the kiln gradually started to move upwards. I had to leave but Joe Katrina and the faithful few stayed on to cajole it up to temperature and dose it with soda.

Monday, we arrived amazed that it had got to temperature, whilst we waited for the cooling Joe did some demonstrations .

We opened the kiln and recreated the packing pattern for every shelf which showed the characteristics of that firing, cool,hot places, where the soda had been best/least.


Everyone was pleased with their pots and sadly it was all over.


Thanks to everyone and thank you Katrina and Joe.

amazing oak trees seen at the pottery school


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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