Firing the Kiln
Firing the kiln is certainly the most dramatic part of the production cycle. The fire itself is quite beautiful, flowing like a river through the carefully stacked pottery and out the chimney. To be in such close proximity to the extreme heat and bright light of the kiln at 2300 degrees for many hours, with the fate of three months' work in the balance, is a deeply moving experience.
It is a challenge to stay focussed through the final hours of side-stoking the kiln. The pace is fairly relaxed, but paying attention and reading the kiln properly is crucial. I don't think I've ever had a perfect firing, and perhaps that isn't even the goal. Like every other aspect of making pottery, striving for excellence is much more important than achieving perfection.
After loading the kiln with approximately 1200 pots, a small fire is set and maintained for a couple of days to finish drying out the ware. Then we slowly increase the temperature 100 degrees per hour until we reach 2300 degrees.
With our top temperature hovering around 2300 in the front of the kiln, we stoke wood through the side ports rhythmically for the another ten or twelve hours to even out the temperature in the back of the kiln.
The image at left shows flaming pine slabs at the front of the kiln at around 1800 degrees. The pots have not yet begun to glow.
Hard Working Boy!
Strike a Pose!