It has been almost two years since I started building my wood kiln during the Covid lock down in August 2021. I have now had four firings and the results are more exciting each time.
It takes time to get to know the idiosyncrasies of a wood kiln, how they breathe, the cooler and hotter spots and how different wood makes ash and temperature.
I am loving this journey of making friends with my kiln.
Every morning I greet my kiln with a "Good Morning Sandy-Lucida! What shall we make today?" and I then muse on the project I have set myself for the day over tea and toast.
There is so much to understand.
In each firing I use lots of pyrometric cones (above) to learn about where the hotter and colder places are in the kiln. I make lots of clay body and glaze tests. Try new shapes and forms and also look at the results from the ash that the different woods create.
At this stage I have mostly been burning pine as that is what has come out of our back yard. Pine creates a lot of ash and I am finding that the bricks I use to close the wicket (door) are getting fused together during the firing with the ash so next time I will be giving each brick a coat of shelf wash as I close the kiln up. I still have lots of pine wood for this years firings but I will be bringing down some Box Elders and Poplar trees in the next month and that will be next years wood for the kiln. My aim is to clean up the bush around us in both our block and our neighbours land of non-indigenous trees and weeds to fuel the kiln and plant local ones to replace them. In this way I feel I am able to fire the kiln in a sustainable way.
I have been using/testing several Shino glazes. These bowls (above) show the soluble crystals of soda ash in the glaze migrating to the unglazed outside surface of the bowls before firing. Only the inside is glazed but the porous nature of the clay allows the crystals to pass through the walls of the pot. It is a fascinating process.
Once fired (below) the outside unglazed surface is shiny due to the combination of glaze crystals and ash.
This was a firing that I invited a few friends and family to participate in so many of these pots are not mine.
The main chamber is fairly even in temp throughout but a little cooler on the floor. This load reached cone 11 through most of the main chamber and cone 13 flat in the throat.
So 1280˚C -1300˚C.
I was very happy with my tea bowls which have a variety of glazes on them.
I hope to get two or three more firings done this winter as I have my family exhibition approaching. I will stop wood firing over Spring/Summer/Autumn depending on the weather so time is of the essence.
The exhibition with my three siblings will be our 9th show together and my first with work from my wood kiln.
'In Our Nature' will open on Friday 20th October at the BDAS Gallery in Bowral NSW it will be open daily and closes on the 29th October.
I also have another exhibition proposed for April 2024 the details of which I will update closer to the time.
So I keep making and thinking.