Tuesday, 7 February 2017


So, Christmas came and went, and we're just now just about recovered. Here's a picture of the late-night oil-kiln pack we managed to get through just in time for the last Christmas rush. It was a really special firing for me for number of reasons, one being that I got to pack the majority of it. Its a complex task that combines grouping together pieces of a similar size, and placing certain glazes to suit certain areas within the kiln. An example of this would be, placing Tenmoku on the outer edges of the shelves, into the firebox (the area in the kiln in which the flames are directed), because it can take a lot of heatwork. Or placing the combination chun and plum glazes, with wax resist, higher up in the kiln, because if they get too hot, the brush lines will be lost and the glaze may run off the pot and fuse to the shelf.

The firing was successful, bar a bit of under-firing at the bottom. This caused some of those wax resist decorations to come out white-ish instead of a the shiny, brown and speckled blue we hoped for. 

I have continued to purse throwing larger forms, with some success...and some disaster :) Below is a photograph of a 8lb jug form I have been practicing. Its very, very satisfying to make something so big when it is successful. I could justify keeping only four, after turning and fluting (another danger zone for error) and handling, and will fire them in our first firing this year. 

January has been an opportunity for us to get on with finishing the Gas Kiln too. We did our first biscuit firing a few weeks ago which was overall pretty successful. It was a lot noisier and smellier than we had imagined, but it got up to 970 degrees (after getting stuck at 930 for a while) and the pots came out just fine. Helping and watching Matthew to put it together has been a really valuable experience. Its really given my understanding of how built kilns work greater depth. I may have even caught the bug! In June last year, I got the opportunity to go to the Earth and Fire ceramic fair at Rufford with Adopt a Potter. Seeing all the beautiful pots opened my eyes to lots of different ways of firing, and I'm most definitely more than intrigued by wood firing.  I love it when we get variation of tone over one pot in the oil kiln, and it would seem that this is all part of the beauty of firing with wood. I hope to learn more soon!

the new Joe Finch Gas Kiln

And just to finish, here's a picture of me in my December get-up. We do our glazing in the kiln shed, which is literally a big shed and not at all a warm space to be.  The plastic bags are because I refused to swap my boots for my usual workshop shoes (chef's Birkenstocks - they're brilliant!), but iron oxide  (a key ingredient to many of our glazes) on leather is never a good thing.  I won't tell you how many layers I have on under that boiler suit! Sometimes you do have to sacrifice looks to get the job done. 

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