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hog chain wood firing

updated tue 7 mar 00


Merrie Boerner on mon 6 mar 00

Cappelli began stacking pots into my ground hog style kiln (Mother) on
Saturday, Feb. was the beginning of my "Leap Year 2000"
firing.....# 6....with Mel : ) We took turns assisting, and miraculously
got every single pot brought by the 14 potters into the chamber. We made a
toast to all the potters who have fired with me before...and to all the
potters who WILL fire with me in the future...and to Mother...nice ash...and
anything else that came to mind...then we lit the flame and assigned stoking
Several "Newbies with wood firing" participated, and confessions of
addiction to the flame were shared during the 4 am stoking shift. We stoked
for about 23 hours....trying to bring up the heat in the back of the pot
chamber without just blasting off the front. We held temp in the front at
1500* F for about 3 hours....then moved the pyrometer to the back, brought
it up to 1500* there, and held it for a while. Raising temp is no problem
with this huge fire box and eager we depend upon the pyrometer
to keep us focused on the task of trying for even temp. The variables of
types of wood, tightness of stacking, new stoking participants, and the "try
anything" approach, make each firing a fantastic challenge. Oddly, the side
that usually is cooler than the rest of the kiln was the hottest this time.
During the firing, Mel took several of the participants into my studio
and gave demonstrations, while sharing his knowledge, enthusiasm,
pesonality, and laughter in his usual charming fashion. What a joy !
On Sunday morning, the flames were an inferno...hovering in the top of
the fire box...then traveling though the pots...then shooting out the top of
the stack. AWESOME ! I turned the music off just so we could hear the kiln
breath. I know that the kiln is a "tool".....but during those last 8 hours,
she seems to come alive ! When everyone was satisfied with the flattening of
the cones, we blasted her off and bricked up the stoke hole.......time to
rest, now.
We waited as long as we could stand it for her to cool.....then I
crawled over the smoldering coals to begin delivering the pots out through
the stoke hole. Cappelli had some real winners ! nice glaze treatment, and
beautiful porcelan teapots and covered dishes....true works of art !
Melanie"s "Sweet Wood-fired style" was enjoyed by all.....we did have some
stuck lids and breakage which always hurts. Ky, Matt, and Niels (from Ole
Miss) had the bulk of work in there. They usually fire with salt in Oxford.
Tall pitchers, vases, and cups filled the ground around the kiln. We
discussed how we could improve on the next firing and when it might
be....packed up our pots....and I got ready for my trip to the Alabama Clay
Conference....WHEW !
I think Mel is going to put some pictures on his web sight within the
week......I also will have some to email if you'd like to see them. Mel use
to call me "Hog Chain Merrie", I'm "a kick ass wood firing potter"
It is time to catch up on house work, now....boring....I'll daydream
about the AL Clay Conference, my Leap Year 2000 firing...and try to figure
out a date for my next firing...that would be AFTER NCECA !
Merrie in Mississippi