firing kilns

our new soda kiln

our new soda kiln

wednesday turned out to be my day of firing kilns.

last week on my day off i went over to the studio to help c.p. with some tasks re: the new soda kiln.  v and i kiln-washed the inside, all the door brick, the bricks for the bagwell and the target bricks.  c.p. turned on the burners so we could see the direction the flame would take upon hitting the target bricks. the anticipation was building to fire the brand new soda kiln.   saturday i heard through the grapevine that c.p. would be ready to load tuesday.  j and i would help and the kiln would be fired wednesday.  perfect for me.

then, tuesday morning  i saw r pulling kaowool off rudy’s burners.  with surprise i asked, “did you fire?”.  he said, “no, i’m about to load, didn’t you say wednesday was the best day for you to help out?”.

how awesome!  day of multiple firings.  i would have to leave to teach at creative clay and to stop at an appointment but would be present for the majority of firing.  r and decided to meet at 4 am to start turning up the kilns.

ok, so the truth is, it’s all a bit of a blur.  we started doing turn ups at 4 am, actually r came in at 2 to get a head start on rudy since he couldn’t sleep.  around 5, i think, c joined us.  we started with one burner on the soda and eventually turned on the second.  it was all uncharted territory with the new soda, no old logs to reference.  the pyrometer seemed to be in a strange place, catching a bit of flame so it didn’t match the cones.  there were turn ups, logging, putting rudy into body reduction and taking him out.  then i went to creative clay.  my artlink partner m and i worked on books and decided to take our lunches to the clay co.  i think the soda was ready for body reduction while were there so we went outside to help.  i had her stand back, but with a good view of everything going on and she was able to peek in and see cone 012 falling.  when we walked back inside she asked, “could i learn how to do that?”  i told her that for sure she could do like i have been doing, observing when firings are happening and get to know the process better.

after i returned there was a bit of a lull, rudy was just about done.  i checked out the settings ron had used  for glaze reduction before we took it out.  c and i shut rudy down.  the soda kiln was still chugging along.  we were waiting on cone 8 and 9 to get soft.  it got dark while all this waiting was happening.  c.p. and i got hungry and ordered pizza.  he went to get it and when he got back it was totally time to soda.  the baking soda, soda ash and water were all prepped in the sprayer and mixed with saw dust so we scarfed down a slice of pizza each and started making “chalupas” out of newspaper.  shoving them in turned out to be pretty hysterical, and we had to improve our design or they would get stuck on the bricks and burst into flame.  after that there was spraying, a whole lotta spraying and reduction and finally we were done.  c.p. showed me how to shut down the kiln and we sat down to enjoy some more pizza before leaving.

what a good time!  i learned a lot, got to see a lot and of course got to soda the kiln.   friday i went over after work to see the work that was unloaded.  i was super pleased with my peices (2 wall peices and the garlic wall hanging i made for benny).  the were all highwater helios porcelain and were in the bottom of the kiln where cone 11 had started to fall.  they had a nice sheen and one of the wall pieces had just a little gray speckling from reduction.

after the longest week ever.

seriously, last week was long.  i was bummed out to miss art basel in miami but life on the west coast of florida was busy enough.  at work we were being observed, at the studio we were preparing for the sale and i was preparing my own art work for the sale.  whoo, i was really running on low!

finally yesterday i had a bit of a break.  well, recently a half day is as close to a day off as i get but i’ll take what i can get.  i worked in the morning at creative clay.  we are still book making.  i know we will have to move onto something different but i’ve so enjoyed seeing m improve her skills.

afterwards i went to mazzaro’s italian deli to get something for lunch.  i’ve been hearing about this place since i moved here, but hadn’t yet been.  it was like walking into italy.  i was able to find my favorite cheese from when i was traveling in italy (romano fresca with pepper corns) not to mention arancini (sicilian rice balls) and italian tuna.  these were the things i would buy (with a roll or loaf of bread) and carry around in my bag to eat for lunch in some scenic spot.  you know how it is.  the only thing i didn’t find, but i’ll have to look next time, is white anchovies.  the arancini were very similiar to my family’s except that they had way too much cheese in them!

i relaxed the rest of the day, stepping out for an errand or two, and this morning, finally i was back to 100%.

chugging right along.

yesterday after work i stopped at tijuana flats, thinking i’d pick up something real quick and head to the studio.  a dish of flautas later i was so stuffed i could barely make it home.  i always forget with american food you can only eat half.  you must take half home or your belly will burst.  you think, oh it’s so good, and there’s only a couple more bites.  no, you really have to take that bit home don’t you?

i finally made it into the studio at about 9.  i tried watching pushing daisies on tv, but my mind kept floating back to the bush and the big, as of yet unnamed, pile of coils in the studio.  i was itching to get the bush done, so it can start drying and getting ready to be fired.

i worked for three solid hours.  i got a lot of height on the coil monstrosity.  this is going to be kind of a tree, but i haven’t made any leaps yet as to how it’s going to look.

the bush got some new pods on it.  i left about 7 pods on a ware board hardening up all day and they got a little too hard, so i had to pitch them.  i pinched out four more pods, and some “leaves” to fill in space around the the pods.  I’m going to add a texture to the rest of the bush that will not make it too hard to move.  i also decided to add 4 cut outs to the bottom of the bush to help with moving it.

here is a shot of my studio space.  it’s full!