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A few failures and a few successes

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.

Striped plate:

stripe plate

 

 

Two serving bowls.  The raw clay got re-oxidized which makes it look kind of naked to me.  But the glaze looks good.

serving bowls

 

Mug detail.  There were some pots with lots of ash on them- and the ash melted nicely in the refire

mug detail

 

 

 

Small tray.  Nice, huh?

zipper tray

 

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!

feet

 

Five segment tray:

5 segment tray

Oribe bullseye plate:

oribe bulls

I’m firing again right now (programmable kiln!).  I’m hopeful!

Thanks for reading.

 

Bubbling!

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.

you can see the black glaze is just not done!
you can see the black glaze is just not done!

 

the white glaze was in the middle of crawling...
the white glaze was in the middle of crawling…

 

almost hot enough, but yuck.
almost hot enough, but yuck.

 

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!

ekiln

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.

Thanks for reading.

Aftermath

Well, I unloaded my kiln yesterday.  It’s a disaster.  Here is the the pile of pots which are messed up:

bad pots

Here are the pots that are ok:

good pots

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.

Thanks for reading.

The Firing

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would like to talk about this past week.  It’s been a serious challenge.  I got behind in my making and glazing with a series of illnesses.  I hustled to get all the pots glazed so I could wad them on Wednesday, and then the weather was against me.  Wednesday was 23 degrees and snowing with 45 mph gusts.  Oof.  So I postponed wadding until Thursday, and wadded and loaded the kiln Thursday.  It was a long day- I do all the loading alone (but was grateful for help with the wadding!) and usually split this into 2 days. But I got it done, and was all set to fire Friday.

This is the back stack in the kiln.
This is the back stack in the kiln.

 

Friday was hard.  Not only was I firing, but my daughter was home from school and I was awaiting my folks visiting.  I guess I was distracted.  The temperature climbed well until about 3pm, where it stalled at cone 1.  Around 6:30/7pm we were still working on dropping cone 4 and realized we had lost the coal bed in the fire box.  I must have had the air open too wide.  I think there are other factors, but that’s my best guess on what caused this problem.  Shoot.  We closed the air way down and worked hard to get heat back into the firebox.  We stoked my kiln all night trying to get to cone 10.  At 6am, with no wood left (we even used some of Michael Kline’s wood) we stopped stoking.  Cone 8s and 9s were bending, but it’s not nearly as hot as I need for my clay or my glazes.  I am so lucky to have good friends Kristen Flournoy and Michael Kline who stayed up all night stoking with me.  John also really stepped up to taking care of Grae and providing us with support and food.

Kristen checking cones.
Kristen checking cones.

I’ve spent the weekend feeling devastated.  I’ve worked really hard for this firing, and the pots in this kiln are pots I’m proud of.  Today I unload the kiln.  My hope is that the center of the kiln is hotter then where the cones are, but I think it’s unlikely that the pots will look very good.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thanks for reading.

Lagging a little…

Hey y’all.  I’ve been covered up here on Snow Creek trying to get this kiln fired.  Finally last week my amazing husband went and got me wood from the sawmill.  I usually have it delivered, but Milan (who runs the mill) was in the midst of replacing his dump truck.  John spent all day with our friend Tessa and got the wood stacked.  Phew- thanks John!

She’s cute, huh?

 

Meanwhile, I’m cranking in the studio.  Here are a few shots from the past week.

Box vases, bisqued and with insides glazed.

 

Box vases with the first glaze.  I’ll glaze the thin lines white next.

 

Some of the dinner plates.  I have a lot of plates to glaze.

 

I’m enjoying glazing.  I like thinking about patterns, about the way lines and shapes can fill a space.  I’m behind, and my firing is going to be later than I hoped, but it’s going well.

 

Thanks for reading.