Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Magic of the Kiln

                                                            There are two exciting times for me in the wonderful world of ceramics.The first is the actual creative process, where I am  taking raw clay and creating the shape I desire. The second comes here, as I am unloading the shelves in my kiln. This is one of my large porcelain bowls. The turquoise glaze  turned out just as I had hoped, which is success for me. 
 There is always that element of surprise when playing with clay. First of all is the actual clay itself. I use porcelain, which can be temperamental. Is there a hidden crack that I failed to see? Did the glaze run because I applied it  too thick? Is there a  bare spot because it was too thin? You would think after all these years I would know what to expect, but it is always with baited breath I crack the lid and peer in. Then there are the Kiln Gods to contend with. Don't laugh. We don't see them. We can't touch them, but they can change your firing depending on their moods. Fortunately, they were happy and smiled down on me today.
 You can see here I fire with electricity rather than gas.  
 I love my kiln. It is old, fires manually with cones rather than a computer, and I wouldn't change it for anything. I recently had to replace all these elements you see on the sides.That was a challenge taking them out,  putting in the new ones in and connecting them correctly. Fortunately, I had help from a fellow craftsman.
 I fire a lot and to a high temperature to achieve these colors. That is 1360 centigrade, for my European readers, which translates to  2480 for we Americans.So there is the technical side to all of this. There is also the magic.

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