Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Boring old biscuit
Well that seemed to go ok, although it was not without panic. During the early stages, the pyrometer gauge, which is the piece of apparatus used to register the rate of temperature climb, stopped working. Clearly it required the manual skills of a man who plays with gritty mud all day to sort it out, so I took it to pieces and got stuck in with a screwdriver. Once I'd got the top off, I discovered that it was all complicated, fiddly mechanisms inside, springs and wires and shiny things. All the components were magnetic too and as my screwdriver pulled away from one and slapped uncontrollably and percussively against another due to its magnetic pull, my attempts at repair just made things worse. Even another dig at it with a plastic knife didn't help. So there I was, one of the most important firings of my career so far in full swing and no idea of the temperature in the chamber.
As fortune would have it, there was my old pyro that had stopped working years ago, lying on top of the kiln, so I wired it up and thankfully it sprang back to life - phew, it had obviously needed its two year holiday.
I started the firing at 8am, then continued through the day, chainsawing up loads of recently acquired pallets and burning them as I went along. Somebody told me the other day that vegetable oil is fine as a chain lubricant, so yesterday as the wood was burning there was the most wonderful aroma of chips frying.
Pallets make great kiln fuel because they have chunky hardwood bits for a short, hot flame and longer softwood bits for a faster more furious flame, it's a bit like firing fuel in kit form - and of course they're free and plentiful. They're just a bit of a pain to store until they're chopped, because although they stack nicely, they come with a lot of fresh air and I don't have much space, so I was pleased to get them burned and to save the lovely dry skinny stuff in my woodshed for the glaze firing.
Mark came up after work and we fired until about 11.30, then sealed everything up with wet clay and went home.
Late to bed again, so when the alarm went off at seven this morning, I decided to stay in bed to recharge in readiness for a frantic glazing session in the next few days, I've not long been up - I'm knackered.
Hopefully my chimney stayed up overnight, my mother just called and said there was an earthquake last night, I think it was more up-country than down here so I'm sure all's well..
Bisc firings are such a bore, no shiny pots to look at through the spy holes and the knowledge that when the door's unbricked, they'll only be half way done. Oh, well, it's all part of the process.
Here are a couple of shots from the firing - as ever, that old favourite, chuck loads of wood into the firebox, then pull out the spyhole - will I ever tire of it? The others, a view of a lid through one of the bottom spy holes and the pyrometer doing its thing.
Unpack on Friday, slap the glaze on on Monday and Tuesday, pack the kiln on Tuesday and Wednesday and set fire to it all again on Thursday - new pots a week on Sunday, can't wait. it's been a long time.
Ron has just had a great batch of slipware pots out of the kiln in the States, check it out.