After my last firing back in August, for Art In The Pearl, I was too depressed to even blog. The firing was fine… pots all good, but a big chunk had broken out of my door when I opened the kiln. I had built the kiln a couple of years before, and used a lot of MIzzou castable in its’ construction. The door was completely cast from Mizzou, and hung on a track which made loading and unloading ever-so-pleasant, especially in the middle of the night. The kiln had only been fired seventeen times, so to have a 25 pound chunk of castable fall out of the door was a pretty grim event. For a while, I pretended that I was going to be able to repair it, but a thorough inspection made it clear that it was dangerous, could never be used again, and was irreparably damaged, It was demolished.
I just had one show after Art In The Pearl… Corvallis Fall Festival. A typhoon class storm that dumped 5″ of rain in 8 hours and reduced Corvallis’ lovely city park to a mudhole and sent artists whimpering into their tents, made it possible for me to pretend I didn’t need to make any pottery before Christmas gallery stocking. Then I started getting emails from a woman in Seattle who had been waiting for two years for another big covered jar to go with the one she had purchased in 2009 or so. She was patient, and not cranky, and I finally decided that I would make a load of pots so she could have her husband’s Christmas present. And I would have to fix the door.
I knew there were some double-size bargain insulating bricks up at Northwest High Temp. It took just 70 of them to make a short-life door for my kiln. I am hoping to get 6 firings out of them – one year of work. Watching these bricks dissolve in the horrific atmosphere of the Salt Beast will cost about $30 per firing, way less than the cost of rebuilding the door.
I fired the kiln two days ago, and pulled the pots out tonight. The firing was not without problems – I knew I was cutting it close with the gas but didn’t want to pay $150 for an off-schedule propane delivery. There was 40% in the 500 gallon tank when I started, and it takes just 20% of that tank to get to 2265 F, my temperature goal. At 2000 there were inch-long frost crystals on the tank, and I felt doomed. It was 5 pm by them, too late for any begging by phone. I washed the tank with cold water repeatedly, and it pinged and crackled. The ex-temp door worked fine and the temperature kept rising. The third salting was done at 9:30; I crash cooled to 1700, and was in bed by 11.
Today is the 19th of December, and I say to all of you non-potters that the opening of a kiln, even a soulless electric kiln full of bad majolica, is better than Christmas anytime. And so it was with my kiln today. Plenty hot, plenty salt! Here are those big jars….
It’s easy to be cranky with people that want you to match something you made years back. You think #$@#***WHY THE HECK DIDN’T YOU BUY IT WHEN I HAD TOTES FULL OF THAT WORK? She’s bringing the jar her husband, a serious cook, loves, to our meeting in Seattle Saturday, and will select two of these to go with it. They are big, the largest about 20″ tall.
Here’s another special order from the kiln, 12″ pitcher with my “Cotton” imagery. Also a gift from a wife to a husband who collects my stuff. Aspiring potters, be especially nice to couples who come in together to look at your work. They are the repeaters, the big spenders, the most appreciative and fun of all customers.
There were lots of these, more than 50 mugs, and lots of other nice pieces. I will be visiting Bill Bachhuber, the professional photographer who shoots my work next week, I hope.
It’s a good load. It’s good to fire again, and I’m glad I finally did something about the missing door.