Friday, 27 November 2015
Last year I had a rush of blood to the head (a bit like that other time) and I bought a pottery kiln!
If you've been following my clay adventures you will know that I fell hard for this new craft a couple of years ago when I took my first class and I've been trying to learn more ever since. (So funny to look back at those first pots, perhaps I have improved lol!).
The kiln wasn't expensive but what I didn't realise at the time was that I didn't have the right power to run it and it wasn't going to be as simple as plugging it in.
I hit a steep learning curve, wasn't sure how to fix it and then our renovation came along all the clay gear was packed away while they dug a big hole in our back yard.
Fast forward to this year and the moment I've been dreaming of finally came the other day. My kiln was wired in and I can finally fire my own work.
I'm very much a beginner, and there is so much to learn. But its really nice to have control over my own little experiments. I love that.
On the first day I plugged my little kiln in to its shiny new powerpoint, put some not so precious pots on the shelf and base of the kiln to do a bisque fire and turned it on.
I was hoping to fire to 1060c. Things started well, it turned on quite happily and the temperature climbed steadily for a few hourse. But then to my disappointment it stalled at 1000c and wouldn't budge. After a couple of hours I turned it off, disappointed but hopeful it had done enough to bisque fire the work.
Then disaster! Turns out the temperature gauge was faulty. The kiln had actually gone way past 1000c - high enough even to melt clay! The next morning I opened the kiln to devastation. All the earthenware pieces had melted into a glassy kind of substance and stuck like cement to the fragile firebrick floor and shelf of my precious, long awaited kiln.
You can imagine my feelings, but long story short, it was fixed. Turned out it wasn't too bad and with some advice and help from a few generous and knowledgeable people the kiln was fixed. Phew!
I now use pyrometric cones to keep an eye on the temperature which I look at with my new fashionable kiln sunglasses. In future I'm hoping to have a controller attached which will mean I won't have to manually turn up the heat every hour and the new temperature gauge might show the right temperature.
I've managed three successful bisque fires and one glaze load now. I've taken pots through from raw clay to finished piece, all in my own space. That blue bowl with the leaves was handbuilt, bisque fired, glazed and then fired again here. There's something really wonderful about making something from scratch. It makes me so happy.
I've set up my pottery wheel in the new garden shed and put a workbench in there too.
Combined with the handbuilding course I've been doing with Cath Fogarty from ChinaClay I am reinspired, out of my creative rut and looking forward to lots of potting and playing next year.