Being a potter, my work schedule isn’t 9-5 Monday to Friday. I used to fire 5 times a year, but lately it’s been more like 3. I’ll spend 3 months making pots for one kiln- starting to make them slowly in the first month, and working against the clock in the last month. Then after the firing, I take a break. Making pots is hard work. My body gets tired. And we live in the country- our property takes caring for. Since Grae was born, John and I have been taking turns which of us is “on”. If one of us has a deadline, the other is taking care of our daughter.
I had hoped that now would be my break time, but unfortunately I don’t have that luxury now. I’ve been doing lots of refires, and while there are some interesting and some nice results, a lot of it I’m not thrilled with. It’s not good enough for upcoming gallery shows. I’m going to fire again at the end of April.
Lucky for me, I made way too many pots for the last kiln so I have a bunch of work ready to go in this next one.
And I think I’ll try to refire some of the pots from the last kiln. I had very little luck refiring my black glaze in the ekiln. Maybe it will do better in the wood kiln?
Milan brought me wood yesterday. Oh wood! It’s like money in the bank!
This week John is taking a class at Penland (from Yann Giguere). He’s learning Japanese woodworking! Then next week John is turning on his furnace to get cranking on orders. I’ll be cranking too to get this firing under my belt.
After I fire next month I am taking a break. I won’t fire until late September. John needs time to work, and I need time with Grae and working the garden. Some years we grow almost all of our vegetables. I want that to be a priority this year. Grae is really getting into food and I want her to learn where it comes from and how good it can be.
Thanks for reading everyone. I really appreciate the support and kind words from you all after my bad firing. I’m so lucky to have you as my community.
I have done 2 refires in my electric kiln so far. The first refire didn’t go so well. I’d say only 1/4 of the pots I fired again turned out ok. It did change some of the pots that were trash, to pots that are sellable as seconds. Ha.
The second electric firing went much better. I worked out the bugs in the firing schedule (fired a little cooler, with a longer soak, and slight change in the cooling) and got some pots out that are OK! Maybe even good!! With this post I decided to focus only on the positive and show you some successes.
Two serving bowls. The raw clay got re-oxidized which makes it look kind of naked to me. But the glaze looks good.
Mug detail. There were some pots with lots of ash on them- and the ash melted nicely in the refire
Small tray. Nice, huh?
The back of the tray (the raw clay) is paler then I want. I like the wood and salt surface my big kiln gets. But for now, I’ll take what I can!
Five segment tray:
Oribe bullseye plate:
I’m firing again right now (programmable kiln!). I’m hopeful!
Some of you have asked to see what the bad pots look like- or why they are unacceptable. Basically, my kiln did not get nearly as hot as it needed to for my clay and glazes. So the glazes were in the middle of melting (and bubbling) when we stopped stoking.
The first re-fire in my ekiln is cooling now. I got a lot of great advice from my knowledgeable potter friends about what kind of firing schedule I should use in the electric. Thanks guys!
I’m also feeling a little more optimistic. I think maybe I’ve accepted the loss, and am trying to make lemonade. What else can I do? I unload this kiln in the morning.
Well, I unloaded my kiln yesterday. It’s a disaster. Here is the the pile of pots which are messed up:
Here are the pots that are ok:
Unloading was sad. It took John and I about an hour. I had to take a few breaks to catch my breath because I was so upset.
I’m so grateful that I am a studio potter. I like that I know what I want to do each day, I like (most of) the pots I make, I like being able to stay on our land all day. It’s really a good match for me. For some reason this past firing cycle has been testing all that. I’m tired. For weeks now I’ve been telling myself that I’m almost done, and I can take a break soon. And now I feel like I’m back to square one.
So I’m going to re-fire some of the pots in my electric kiln and with luck I’ll be able to salvage some of my work. I’ll keep you posted.