Over the past 15 years that I’ve been in the ceramics world, I’ve seen a lot of different kilns fired. I’ve stayed up til the wee hours of the morning to add salt into a gas kiln to see plumes of greenish smoke billow out of the ports. I’ve helped stoke piece of wood after piece of wood to keep the kiln at just the right temperature. I’ve bought stores completely out of baking soda more times than I can count to get a nice sheen on our soda fired pieces. I’ve help gather gallon after gallon of old vegetable oil so we could use it as fuel source to spend all night smelling like a fast food restaurant. Dropping horse hair over raku pieces remains fondly burned in my memory...and not so fondly, my nose. Still, firing is one of the more exciting elements of ceramics.
Nick is detailed in the crafting of each piece of pottery and just as intentional with the deep thought and planning it takes to build a good kiln. Over the past 6 months, he has put brain power and physical strength into building an impressive cross-draft, wood kiln. This kiln is much bigger than our old, coffin-style gas kiln and has a unique build to help us achieve our vision for each piece of pottery.
The first firing was...well...eventful. And long. 36 hours of firing and we were questioning whether we would get any decent pieces from the batch. Because of how big the kiln is and how fast the deadfall wood around us burned, we ended up running low on wood. Then a series of unfortunate events cascaded into a long, drawn out fight to keep the kiln at the right temperature.
All in all, the kiln produced some beautiful pieces and some, well, ugly pieces. I always say opening the kiln is like Christmas morning: you might get the ugly sweater or you could get the laptop. This kiln, it was a little of both.