Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We've unloaded the kiln

Welcome to the first Windy Ridge Pottery post in what we'll refer to as the Obama years.

First off I need to say that in my excitement to tell you all about our first firing I forgot to thank all of the people who helped us with the firing. Aaron Weaver, and Krista Loomans also recent imports from the southeast helped quite a bit especially Sunday night. Christy's brother, sister-in-law, and mother came Sunday afternoon and cut and stacked quite a bit of wood which was great, as well as feeding us, and taking some stoking shifts. Also local potter Frank Polizzi loaned us a couple extra shelves and stopped by twice a day during the firing to lend encouragement. Thanks everyone!
Also as a side note, as soon as my Dad found out that our camera was broken he got on the case and we've got a new camera in the mail. Hopefully it will come by latter today, or tomorrow. Lots to take pictures of. Thanks Dad.
So as I don't have a camera yet, I'll wait for the camera to show you the pots. We unloaded last night and we're quite pleased with maybe half the pots. Which is great for the first firing. I would say maybe 70% of the pots are sellable. I'll post pictures as soon as I can.
So here is the most disturbing part of the unloading. At the beginning of the year we knew we would be using a lot of sand, so Christy called maybe a dozen different quarries looking for silica sand. Most of the places only had limestone sand. She eventually found a quarry who had a very light colored sand where they promised it wasn't limestone. We used this sand in our floor, mortar and wadding. Our wadding is almost completely fused together. I'm not sure what the sand is, but it certainly isn't silica. My best guess is that it is crushed sandstone which is sedimentary silica with some feldspar. Sections of the floor where the sand was exposed to the flame showed some signs of fusing together. We haven't seen any signs of our kiln moving though so hopefully the mortar isn't going to start turning into glass. It's going to be a lot of work to clean the pots though as the wadding does not come off easily.
The other most obvious problem is that on a couple of dozen pots the white slip did not adhere to the clay body at all. The glaze and slip flakes off of these pots quite easily, not just on the rim, but everywhere. I'm not sure what causes this, but it will certainly take some looking into.
Some of our floor brick foamed somewhat, which is unfortunate. Also there is one brick in the bag wall that fell which has completely melted. I though the bagwall fell due to poor construction, but one of the bricks melted into nothing but a foamy mess on the bricks below it. This is certainly what cause the bag wall to fall.
This is all the bad news. The good news is the pots. They look really good. The clay body flashed nicely, and most of our glazes look good. As soon as the camera arrives I'll post pictures. Also looking at the kiln as we unloaded it, we could determine easily what caused our cold spots. In the first chamber it was a kiln shelf that got too close to the side wall. In the second chamber the top of the kiln was stacked too tightly, and then the bagwall fell over completely blocking the flame from rising upward.


Mom/Pat said...

Congratulations on such a good outcome of your hard work and skill and knowledge! You are both pretty impressive!

T.Gray said...

Can't wait to see the pots!

Dan Finnegan said...

How clever of you to plan your 1st kiln opening for Obama's election! What great karma for the future.