4 AM And Firing

While fighting with ‘my’ soda kiln at school I have learned many valuable lessons; the least of which being a marginal increase in knowledge of the soda firing process. I have learned of my own limits and where they usually lie (and how to change them), I have learned the kindness of friends bringing me food during the cold watches of the night, and I have even learned a bit about technical aspects of the firing. I say ‘my’ kiln because I don’t own it. I have just been given liberty to “fire at will”. It holds a special place in my heart similar to the way a splinter holds a special place in one’s finger. A retrofitted electric kiln with a hole cut in the side for a burner and a hole in the lid for a chimney encompasses my little research world. The student before me had coated the inside with T-Material and I have washed the floor and lower walls to slow down corrosion (which is still quite impressively aggressive). With the “firebox” taking up the first 9 inches it only affords two shelves worth of stacking space. This is good and bad, though mostly good in that it is impossible to risk too much work because the kiln is so small. Loading is fast and straight forward and it reliably reaches ^9 with a straight pipe forced air burner (which is good but I am shooting for ^11). The firing at the time of writing is at ~500° and my first time trying the double venturi burner for which the holes were designed and cut.  This may seem a rather obvious thing to do, mostly because it is… However it required moving 2 soaking wet kilns to accommodate the burner assembly, thus my delay. The firings had been taking an average of 14 hours and ending at unreasonable hours in the morning. So this time I began at 4 AM in an attempt to end sometime in the early evening. I don’t mind the mornings though; I enjoy the meditation afforded by solitude. The early mornings are special times.

More will follow, naturally, and I must thank you for your time.

-Herrick Smith