So now that I’m back from the firing, and have had a bit of sleep, I think that this was a pretty good firing. It will be completely fascinating to see how it turns out, but I’ll have to wait until we unload on Nov 1st to see what it looks like.
I still find it weird how hot we got. Normally, we might have cone 13 down in front, 12 in the middle, and 11 down in back. Having 13 downs through out the kiln, is unusual, alarming, and a bit awesome. I feel like shutting it down early was the right thing to do, though. The risk of going on and getting everything too hot, were greater than any downsides of shutting it down 15 hours early. I think that since we started side stoking early than normal, there won’t be much of a difference in the amount of ash especially in the back of the kiln. However, there’s just so many variables (very tightly packed kiln, no stoking in the far back port, very hot, short firing, early side stoking, heavy reduction cooling in front, but we forgot to seal off some of the air to the middle) that it will be hard to figure out any cause or effect. Well, no sense in guessing until Nov 1st.
In the mean time, I’ll take some time to tackle all those less glamorous tasks in the life of an artists: sales tax, expense receipts, website maintenance, and dirty laundry.
It turns out that the rumors of cone 13 being down in back were true. We decided to shut it down at 4pm. We mixed up the mud (wood ash, clay, and water) and sealed up all the openings. We spent the next three hours reduction cooling. I’ll post more on that soon, because I’m on my way home! It will be very good to be back.
I’m still up at Ken’s studio, and haven’t gone down to the kiln yet today. However, one of the morning shift has just past on some crazy news. Cone 13 is down not only in the middle, but also in the far back. This hotter than we’ve ever gone before. Apparently, they’re struggling to keep the front from taking off even more. Going hotter is hard on the clay. I was about to go split some wood for the night shift, but with these temperatures, we might just shut it down this evening.
Here’s two shots from last night – the kiln at night, and my sidestoking duty station.
The kiln has been above 2000 degrees in both front and back for about a day now. It’s been keeping between 2200 and 2300 in front, and we’ve been fighting to get the back to match that. We’ll gain maybe 100 degrees over the next two days. It’s funny how you spend the first day or two working to keep it slow, and now we might have to fight for every 20 degrees.
For the next few days it will mainly be about what the cones are doing, and what the coal bed is like. Cones measure a combination of heat + time, and give us a better idea of how the pots are doing than just temperature. Last I heard, cone 13 is bending in front, and 10 is down in the middle. Not sure about the far back. The kiln will continue to feel hotter and hotter as we go on.
Flame and smoke from the stack with every stoke now. Also, it is a VERY beautiful day.