search  current discussion  categories  kilns & firing - wood 

wood firing---new stuff i learned

updated sun 3 nov 02


Karen Terpstra on sat 2 nov 02

I had the chance to fire this fall with Nils Lou. It was the 78th =
firing of his East Creek Anagama and the 5th firing of his new flat top =
chamber wood kiln. =20

The anagama and the caboose kiln were stacked LOOSE AS A GOOSE!!! Like =
Mel and others preach here, you have to allow for adequate circulation =
around the pots----even in a bisque. I think many wood fire people have =
the idea that you have to cram that thing full of as many pots as you =
can get in there.. Why? I'm not sure.=20

Nilsie tried this VERY loose firing for the first time while I was out =
there. All cone 12's dropped faster than they ever had in that kiln and =
remember this was the 78th firing. This gave us a longer soaking time =
as it was a 5 day firing.

The other thing I learned was that I don't have to give the fire box as =
much air as what I thought. Maybe that has been my problem with having =
to hold my kiln back. When I arrived for my shift during the soak. =
They were stoking with the mouse holes, primary and secondary ports all =
clammed up! Another new experiment. I said, "how the h*** is this =
thing working?!" Nils wasn't there so someone on the crew said, "I =
don't know but it is working."

The front of Nils's anagama is the loading door. It was bricked up with =
old bricks and not mudded up or sealed tightly when the loading was =
finished. So, there was the adequate air for combustion and just enough =
for the wood to maintain a nice burn for the soak. another trick to =
make things easier with wood sloppy messy crappy slurry to =
deal with to mud up a door. I told Nilsie I love his brain! Just love =
any advice to make my life easier while wood firing!

Well, when I returned to La Crosse, we fired our wood kiln the next =
weekend. We stacked both chambers looser than we ever had. We dropped =
cone 12 in all areas faster and more evenly than we ever had. Gave us =
more time for a relaxing soak. All of our work is bisqued first and we =
go for flash rather than ash, therefore no reason for messing with a =
long preheat. we are concerned with reaching temp. a good soak and a =
long cooling period.

During the soak we did the same thing with the air ports, kept them =
closed up more than we had previously. Not as much as Nilsie's as we =
have a tighter front and we stoke from the side. Worked like a charm. =20

We opened 3 days later and had the most even firing we ever had. the =
only thing we will do differently is start soaking at cone 10 - 11 =
instead of 12. Our porcelain was a tiny bit over done in some places =
but now we are getting really picky too.

Nilsie is on vacation in Mexico right now so don't tell him that I'm =
giving away his secrets. :) I'm sure he won't mind...he is a very very =
giving person and a wonderful teacher. Always experimenting, trying, =

happy firings,
karen terpstra
La Crosse, WI

ps. Mel, I hate to say it but i think nil's martinis are better than =