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Wear and Tear

During the last firing, we had a very shocking, and potentially dangerous surprise. Midway through the firing, well after starting reduction and getting to around 1800 degrees fahrenheit, a piece of the kiln floor broke and fell into the fire box. This was a real scare since we didn't know the extent of the damage, and it was a VERY large piece that fell. Did the floor completely break? Did the pieces inside move? Could the whole stack have fallen over? It was nerve wracking but at the same time, we didn't have any choice. We didn't hear any shifting or feel anything move, so we continued and hoped for the best. Luckily, nothing was damaged in the firing, but we definitely dodged a bullet this time.

This is the piece that fell, mid firing. Our hearts definitely skipped several beats!

Once everything was unloaded, we could see the extent of the damage. The large fire brick we had used for the bottom had cracked and broken nearest to the flame and firebox, and with over 30 firings in this kiln, had finally given way. Luckily none of the other floor pieces were damaged, and we managed to hammer and chisel the piece out.

All the heat and temperature changes finally took their toll.

After removing all the pieces of the floor, we could assess the damage and see just how badly it had become.

We are also lucky in the sense that because of the manner in which we built the kiln, we were able to remove the bricks above the floor, piece by piece, without having to worry about the entire walls or arch coming down. This means that with the extra new bricks we've picked up, we can slide one back into place without too much hassle.

Take the bricks out so we can slide a new piece in

This was a very powerful reminder of the fickle nature of wood firings and older forms of pottery, and how even though we're going back to the basics, things can definitely go wrong. We will definitely be keeping a much closer eye on the state of the kiln going forward and make sure she's not falling apart on us.

 

~Peter

Well, we are still alive :)

It's been quite a while since I've updated anything, or to be honest, done anything at all. With Ayano visiting from Japan, my mind has been blissfully far far away from pottery and work for quite some time. With some wonderful trips to Niagara Falls, Montreal and even a glorious week of camping at Grundy Lake, we finally felt ready to return to the grindstone and get back to work. And just in time as well, as my father will be doing the Cabbagetown Art Show next weekend, and after that in September, we have the Norfolk County Studio Tour, probably our biggest event of the year!!

 

As I write this, we are getting ready for a firing tomorrow, and we've just gone through a marathon few days of glazing and preparing. A few things stand out, such as little surprises left in old glaze buckets left unattended, like poor mice who have fallen in and unfortunately can't get out. Not the freshest smell, and it required a lot of sifting to get some of the 'residue' out, but my father assures me the glaze will be fine, if not even better! So there's one secret from the world of potters you probably didn't expect (or more likely, didn't want to know).

May MIckey rest in peace.

On a happier note, we've got some glaze tests and new ideas ready for this firing, as well as some pieces Ayano made on my small bowls, which if they turn out well, will look amazing :) I can't say I'm thrilled that summer is almost over, but it has been nice getting back to work and producing again. More updates to follow soon!

Ayano's flowers :) Only her second attempt at making them!


Firing Update, a Grueling Affair

It's 3:20 am, I'm exhausted, covered in soot, ready for bed and there's no rest in sight. Over the past few days, amid the abundance of snow, we've been working feverishly trying to get all the work ready for one last firing before Christmas. Sunday I was working at 10 am until past midnight, glazing, spraying and cleaning all my work. Today, even with our best efforts, we didn't get the kiln loaded and ready to go until 4:15 pm. So I'm 11 hours into this firing, with a possible 1-3 more hours left to go, (if not more due to the cold weather) and I feel downright drained. But the end is in sight, and without any mishaps, the kiln should be ready to unload Thursday evening. It's moments like this that make me wonder why we do wood firings, and why we don't charge a huge premium for all this extra labour.