Preparing for the Firing

There's a lot of work involved leading up to the firing.  Logs need to be split and stacked.  Bundles of cabinet wood needs to be cut and stacked.  One to four cords of wood are stacked a day to dry next to the kilns.  One cord of wood equates to 4' high x 4' wide x 8' long of tightly stacked wood.  Thankfully we have a tractor and a crazy work-a-holic named Phil.

Loading the Kiln

After the wood has been prepped, the pottery made, fired and glazed, the next step is to load the kiln.  This step is crucial for the success of the firing; the entire assortment of pots brought by the various potters must be carefully studied to assess how the kiln will be loaded and stacked.  It is a slow process that can last two to four days because only one person can be inside the kiln loading pottery at once.  Furthermore, each pot must be loaded onto wadding, a protective clay stilt that will lift the pot from the kiln shelf making sure the pot will not fuse to the shelf during the firing.  

Firing the Kiln

Firing the kilns takes approximately 100 hours.  It requires a team of people to work day and night to feed the kiln wood and manage the firing process.  It's an incredibly beautiful and subtle art.  The kiln slowly begins to come to life as the hours lapse.  One must be vigilant and attentive to its needs. 

Unloading the Kiln

The kilns require a full week to cool off before the unloading can take place. Unloading the kilns are by far the most exciting and joyous part of the process. Collaboration of potter, clay, fire, and ash is complete. Jems patiently await discovery.

Cleaning Up

Since the entire kiln gets coated in wood ash during the firing, the entire kiln including the posts and shelfs need to get cleaned up.  The shelfs, posts, and floor all get ground down smooth using angle grinders fitted with diamond cutting disks.  Even many of the pots will need to get cleaned up too.  Here I'm using a Dremel tool to clean up some fused wadding on the bottom of my cups.