26 March 2009

And Now, The Wait...

The firing seemed to go as it should...better even temperature in the wood chamber with some new ideas about small side stoking to keep the front hot on both chambers. 18 lbs of salt. A good crew ( thanks to Jeff, Beth, Bill, Michael and Elliot) makes this all possible. And a couple of future stokers in Ellie and Baxter. Baxter enjoyed my rolling playpen!
I'm teaching a workshop at LibertyTown this weekend and I'll be dashing out to the pottery Saturday night to see the results.
Of course, I'll be out this evening with a flashlight to get a peek!




6 comments:

Larry G said...

okay... so entertain a truly ignorant question here...

what's the salt for?

is it just any old kind of salt or is it "special" salt?

what happens if you use too much or too little salt?

is that enough dumb questions for the time being?

Dan Finnegan said...

Not a bad question at all. The short answer is that common table salt introduced into a hot kiln creates a glaze. Sodium is an active flux and when it comes in contact with the silica in the clay it melts it and forms glass. The cool thing is that the salt vapor is carried along in the path of the flame, thereby marking the pots in a somewhat random fashion. A collaboration between the potter and the fire!
Salt glazing is the one true contribution of European potters to high temperature pottery technology.
As far as too much or two little, that's mostly an aesthetic decision.

betterwaymediation said...

Hey Dan - great kiln pictures - I'd love to make it down to help stoke someday - especially when your trees are blooming and we're still watching snow collect on the branches on the Cape. I missed seeing you at Coffee O in Falmouth - I would have brought brownies - but have enjoyed the pictures and look forward to seeing the demo pots when they emerge from Hollis' next firing. Janet

Hollis Engley said...

Damn, Janet beat me to the blog. She'd be a great stoker, Daniel, and she works cheap. And she cooks!
Good luck with this one. I'm about to glaze and fire my own kiln, loading up with those wonderful demo pots in copper red and bright blue.

Larry G said...

Thanks for the answer.

Yours is a truly entertaining and informative blog...

I feel your blues when things don't work as planned...

are these problems typical of all kilns.. or new ones or what?

Are their longtime old kilns that after they gain their maturity always crank out perfect pots?

Dan Finnegan said...

Old kilns are often said to be 'well seasoned' and especially in a salt kiln, the accumulation of salt on the interior adds a richness over time. The best ones are often close to falling down. Of course an old kiln means the potter has spent lots of time figuring out that old thing. He might even have grown old himself if he's not careful!
Hey Janet, I was asking after you at the Cape. It's the only place on the earth that I have coffee klatch. Nice to know that your checking in! And the same to Larry G. I'm amazed at the world of interesting people this reaches.