It has been a soggy start to the year here in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
There has been only a handful of dry days since the end of 2021. So spending time building my wood kiln has not been easy to do. Although there is a roof over the kiln the ground is slippery and muddy, there are so many leeches and I am not keen to use my electric tools when it is raining.
When the rain stops I quickly go out and do a little bit of work at the kiln site but for the most part it really needs to be worked on in longer blocks of time when the days are clear and the ground is dry.
I bought a new tool for cutting bricks and kiln shelves last month so my arthritic hands and wrists are much happier. Now, when the weather permits, I cut a few bricks in readiness for when there is sunny/dry day to work on the kiln.
I used my new tool this weekend to transform some old ruined kiln shelves into the damper for the chimney.
What is a damper? Well in this case it is not bread.
**The damper is like a sliding door across the chimney flue/cavity. It allows the chimney to be opened so that the flame can be drawn through the kiln chambers and up the flue when the fire is growing and the heat is rising. It also allows the chimney flue to be closed later in the firing so that the heat, flame, smoke and ash can be trapped in the kiln chamber and thus reducing the oxygen in the main body of the kiln...this is when the magic happens to the pots inside.
The next stage will be to work out the housing for the damper. The two damper shelves need to move freely but there also needs to be as little gap around them as possible so the heat does not escape and the substantial top 4+ metres of the chimney above the damper must be sturdy and stable. Although it will only take a couple of layers of bricks to house the damper it will require every brick to be cut and this will take time. Unfortunately it may be a week or two before I can get this done as the forecast is for another week of rain.
Once the damper is completed I will start on the arches in the main body of the kiln but this may be several weeks away yet.
Each stage in this building project is a brain snap for me. I have never built anything before. I must be mad to be tackling this as an older person! But I am very excited about it and I am enjoying the slow and contemplative nature of it given the weather and my need to take care of my ageing body. I feel like I am building a sculptural house for my work to be nurtured into completion, a warm, happy and creative place for me to spend my old age.
When I am not kiln building I am making pots or sculptures
EXTRA NEWS FLASH
I have also had the exciting news that my sculpture 'A Weight O n My Mind' has be selected as a finalist in the Tom Bass Figurative Art Prize. The exhibition will be in March (see details below)
So life potters along here...a bit wet and soggy but very fertile and creative.