Friday, September 30, 2011

I hear my train a comin'

I have been wood firing in the western PA region since 2004 and every time I have fired, it has always been an event...sort of a cross between a community art happening and a potluck. This past firing of the train kiln was no different.

We loaded the kiln on Tuesday evening with the help of travelling raku artist Andy Wender and another local ceramist Janet Runyan, who is also on the upcoming studio her name to see more about her. Here is an image of me inside the coffin shaped ware chamber loading some of Nancy's mugs...Im looking a little buzzed here but I swear I only had one beer...maybe two.

Nancy started the kiln at 7am on Wednesday...I got there about 4:30...Janet came around 8:00 and Andy helped out most of the day before he had to get ready to head back down south for another festival in Louisville, KY. and then back home to FLA. As usual everybody brought food and Nancy had the beer chilling in the fridge. I hit the wall around midnight and Nancy got back up to finish the firing with Janet until about 2:30am. Nineteen and a half hours was the shortest amount of time that train kiln has ever been fired. Its a hard kiln to fire, there is no sit down time and its sensitive to any move of a brick, passive damper or the chimney damper. It still may have issues as the front was super heated and we worked, and I mean worked, to get the temperature up in the back. Regardless, I am excited to see the results. I know there will be some pieces that will be in need of a re-fire but in the past, even when it did not fire as well, we have had some real gems from the kiln. Because of the extreme "one way" direction the flame takes the pieces always have two distinct sides and usually a great deal of ash...runny, gooey, and sometimes crusty. I had a handful or so of bigger pieces(lidded jars, serving dish, platter) in there and Janet had a small herd of hand built sheep along with a couple of her bigger sculptural pieces. Check out the image below as we all had a hand in the final bits of loading.

It often does take a small village to fire a wood kiln or at least it takes a small village to stop by and have a beer and a bite to eat while firing the kiln. Opening on Saturday night...stay tuned, will post results next week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New season, new surroundings...

Happy Autumn everybody...another season and another year older for me. My birthday was the 22nd and it always marks the beginning of the Fall season, but this year it feels like a much bigger placeholder. My B-Day this year ushers me and my family into the first Fall in our new old house.

As I prepare for the upcoming Indiana County Potters Tour on the weekend of October 15-16, I am also busy renovating our new home. The tough part about this is that Little Mahoning Creek Pottery, where I share a studio with my friend Nancy Smeltzer, is about two long hours away from me now. Where in the past I could cut out of the house and head up to the studio for the day, now I can only make and fire on the days I also commute to work...bummer. Today is one of those days where I sure feel like throwing and the time for wet work to end is growing very near. Oh well, this Tuesday Nancy and I will be firing the Train Kiln with whatever work I have ready... remember the Train?...its been a long time since we fired it because the results were always quite varied. Nancy has done some modifications on the interior and we changed the configuration of the chimney as well as its height. Keep your fingers crossed for us...and speaking of wood...have a gander at my recently re-finished wood floors! These are original to the house which was built in the 20's...2 inch oak planks. Just imagine if I had some furniture in here...its
coming soon just like some freshly fired pots!

Little by little...

Friday, September 16, 2011

As promised...

At the end of my last post/tirade, I promised I would post more pots...and so I am. In between moving and packing and commuting to work, I have been able to eek out some work. But first I would like to thank all those who responded to my "up on my soapbox" post. Obviously I am passionate about the subject but now I am personally involved. I appreciate your comments, input and kind words as I believe these are issues that effect so many people...I received a handful of comments on the ol' blog but also emails and facebook messages regarding the post. Hey, what's a blog for if not to blast one out here and there.

So, the images above and below are glamour shots from the wood firing last week...Nancy had most of the kiln as she was preparing for a big festival in the Pittsburgh area but I did have 15 mugs and few other miscellaneous pieces inside the kiln. As usual the bourry box kiln delivered another solid firing in about 20 hours give or take. Nancy and I added a mixture of salt and soda for a little extra shine. We will be firing the wood kiln one more time and most likely the salt kiln too all in preparation of the upcoming Indiana County Potters Tour. The tour takes place on the weekend of October 15-16...its always a very well attended event for us and we are looking forward to seeing your smiling faces. This year at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery, Nancy will be hosting not only me but also another potter named Amanda Wolf. Come on out to the studio...2 wood kilns, 1 salt kiln, and the new gallery space that is made from re-purposed 100 year old barn board that Nancy salvaged. There's a little something for everybody to check out while toolin' around in the autumnal countryside.
Now that I have given the infomercial for the tour...have a sneak peak at just some of the of the work you you will see, mugs and basket from me and "corndalabras" and ewer from Nancy.