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Firing the Kiln

First Firing, Page 1
4-5 day period centered on Jan. 1, 2003

Loading the anagama kiln with unfired pottery (yakishime) This picture shows the loading process. The bricks have a pale color because I painted them with slip - same clay as used for the mortar. I think this was a mistake as it began flaking off during the second firing. Some cups/bowls on top shelves have bits of it stuck the inside bottoms. I'm still thinking about how to remedy the situation. If you have ideas - email me.

Preheating the anagama with a propane powered raku burner Here, the "preheating with gas" stage has just ended and a small fire is burning. You may notice that there is no hanging door in this picture - I hadn't built it yet. As usual, everything took me longer than I expected. Compounding this, was the fact that I was firing in a period when I was between jobs, and I had stayed an extra week at my old one. This gave me a week less prep time and so I had to build the door during the early stages of the firing.

wood burning in the kiln early in the firing In this picture, you can just make out the graph on the monitor showing the temperature rise. It took 240' of extension cord to get techie - also note, those aren't exactly pyrometers - they are voltmeters (same thing really, just a different scale and much cheaper). Note that the firemouth door is still not completed - not only did I have to build it, I had to go to town for the parts. For a while, the "door" was simply bricks we'd remove from the firemouth before stoking.

extending the chimney during anagama firing Here I am extending the chimney. I wanted to reach 50 millivolts(*), we were stuck around 47 mV(*), so I decided to increase the chimney height to increase the draft. It didn't have any effect on the temperature. I'm adding bricks just before the next stoke so I don't get blasted - Kerry, our neighbor and fellow stoker, is in this picture as well. Like us, he too had never fired a woodkiln before.

(*) I am using the voltmeter function of multimeters as pyrometers (pyrometers are just voltmeters scaled for temperature). I believe the inability to hit 50 mv was due to the kiln being wet. In the second firing, we pegged it at 49 and tried to keep it lower than 50 (we accidentally hit 52). In the second firing, cone 10 was totally flat after 12 hours in the mid 40s. I decided going to 50 was too much and next time, I think I want to hold it down in the mid 40s.

upper firemouth stoke hole door Here is Shiori firing. We tried preheating the wood for a higher temp. That also didn't work (it also was completely unnecessary to go higher but we didn't know that at the time).

Once this kiln is at temperature, it eats anything - little wood, big wood, wet wood ... gloves. It is really quite omnivorous.

wind blown flame from anagama chimney Night shot - that flame is a good 6 ft (1.8 m) long - the wind is just knocking it flat. By this time, I was too sleep deprived to think of taking a shot from the side.

Both Shiori and I began hallucinating .... "who's singing" became our favorite, confused question. It was beautiful singing, even if it was only water starting to boil in the kettle.

relaxing after the firing is over The firing is over and I'm eating freshly prepared gourmet food ... well, at least I wiped the dust off the can lid before opening.

As you can see in this picture, things are still under construction. To my left is the beginnings of a set of stairs down into the cockpit. The galley floor is still dirt and it is covered with only a blue tarp. I have enough blue tarps to build a yurt now - but as they say, you can do anything with blue tarps and duct tape.

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