29 October 2008

#5 Review

I haven't posted much about my firing last week because I've been struggling with the results.
here's my math...5 firings x 2 chambers = 10 chambers fired. I'd rate the salt chamber this time in the top two and the wood chamber in the bottom two. I missed reduction in the wood and I'm still troubled by that...I thought it looked right and without it a lot of the work in that chamber is pale and looks underfired. I don't think that temperature is at fault here...cone 12 was down in most spots. I added bentonite to some of the glazes to make them stick on the raw pots but I don't think that's a factor. I feel a bit like I've fallen off a horse and I'm reluctant to climb back on. It is discouraging to produce so many mediocre pots. Hard to sell...hard to even look at.
I am excited by several slips in the salt; I've been searching for a surface that is more 'satin' than orange peel and glass and I think I've got a couple now. I've always known what I want from the salt...the wood is the challenge that I laid out for myself. I always knew that if wood alone didn't seem interesting that I'd salt both chambers. I'm not sure if this is the moment to make that change. Rudi thinks I should switch, but he's an engineer....and I'm an artist. Eventually he's right, but I usually take a different route to that same conclusion. I'm not sure if that's creativity or stubborness.


Ron said...

Hey Dan, The salt pots look great. It looks like you have a high silica, light firing body for those pots. I used one similar for a while and it really improved my slips. Sort of 'wets' things down. Brighter colors.

Are you using that same body in the wood chamber? It does look like you missed the body reduction, and looking back I see that there is another clay body in there. ?

Don't know why that glaze misbehaved so badly, falling off the pot. When I did single fire I added bentonite to the glaze to make it fit leatherhard. No problems.

Well I hope you'll give the wood chamber another shot. Sorry to hear about all the loss, I know its discouraging, I've experienced it in my salt kiln. (propane fired)

Joe and Christy said...

don't be discouraged. Five firing isn't all that many for a new kiln, especially with new glazes. Salt does seems to make wood kilns more forgiving. Keep at your wood chamber though. As long as your keeping track of what you've done and trying new things you will certainly get it figured out.
good luck

Deb said...

Sorry about your less than hoped for results. I can sympathize. Maybe you can use it as an opportunity to try something new. Like instead of trying to fix the problem they way it should work, think a way around it. You might come up with something new and interesting.I think it was Joy Tanner (don't quote me on that) who said once that she was considering brushing some soda or something onto her pots to try and achieve better results, but she thought that was like cheating. I think I told her that I thought if she wanted to brush kool-aid onto them, who cares. It's just all about getting results you like.

Joe and Christy said...

Hey Dan,
I was curious did you try stoking small stokes directly into the first chamber? I know you mentioned you might give that a try this firing. That seems like it could not but help in both situations. Small stokes of edgings or sticks, maybe when the flame pulls back from the second chamber into the first chamber. Most of the heat still coming from the main firebox. This seems like it could even out the reduction cycles, keeping the chamber from falling back so far back into oxidation. Also small sticks stoked directly into the first chamber could only help with your cool floor.
just a thought

Hollis Engley said...

Hey there. I understand the feeling of not wanting to deal with that kind of disappointment. But I would still celebrate the salt chamber, which is turning out lovely things.
It seems to me that in the spring firing in '07 there were somewhat better results from the wood chamber. But, as in this one, there were still some pale pots in among the ones I had in there. But some of the shinos in the chamber were lovely and ash-kissed. Sooooo ... I don't know. What does the logbook comparison tell you?

Dan Finnegan said...

I appreciate all the thoughts you are sharing. I am using a couple of different claybodies and I did try side stoking, Joe and it did improve the temperature. I just didn't push for much black smoke this time. And Hollis, your right, I have had better success with the wood chamber in the past and I am slowly getting over myself.