The firing ended well. Krista and I were starting to wear down a little early so we pushed the firing a little faster toward the end and closed up the kiln Saturday morning. Everything went well in the end with cone 10 down everywhere. Here's a picture of Krista toward the very end of the firing using our version of the "flamethrower" or "wooden lid" or "rifling" (or whatever else you might want to call it) technique--basically stuffing the door with small sticks with each stick resting on the one below it, but still allowing air to flow between them all. This is a good technique to increase temperature while controlling ember build-up.
Of course being a new kiln to Krista and me, we could only guess how much reduction we were getting. I feel fairly good about the amount of reduction in the front of the kiln. We were aiming for a fairly heavy reduction in comparison to what we aim for with our own kiln here at Windy Ridge. The reduction in the middle and the back of the kiln though, is a little more of a question mark.
Krista learned how to fire from the three years she apprenticed with Kevin Crowe. Kevin emphasized making the firing a community event, and Krista wanted preserve that idea in this firing at Bethel. We had a large potluck on Friday evening as we reached top temperature in the front of the kiln.
And friends stopped by through out the firing.
Overall it was a good experience. One lesson that was strongly reinforced during this firing is how untrustworthy pyrometers are. Cone 10 started moving when the pyrometer said 2160 and we started to side stoke the kiln aiming to hold 2160 in the front of the kiln. As we progressed, the temperature started to drop in the front of the kiln. Eventually we stopped side stoking when the temperature in the front dropped below 200o degrees. We struggled to get the temperature back up to 2100 for several hours. When we finally stopped and looked in the kiln, cone 11 was down and 12 was soft... Pyrometers seem like they should be such great devices, and they usually are, but it was good to be reminded not to rely on them too much.
Unloading next weekend. I'm looking forward to see how our pots look in this longer firing. I have to admit I've had a dream of building a small anagama kiln maybe a small candle shape kiln similar to something described in Furutani Michio definitive book "Anagama: Building Kilns and Firing". It's really just a dream though, I do love making our functional glazed pots, and I couldn't ask for a nicer kiln to fire them in than ours. However it might be fun to have a small anagama which we could fire once a year. A great project.... for 2025...