A Firing—The Usual Story

Kiln in winter

The December firing was originally planned for late October or November, but things conspired to keep it from happening. Finally the fire was lit in mid December. The weather was cool but nice for firing. It does take a little more wood to get the kiln to 2300° F, but the key factor is that it allows the person firing to cool off between stokes. Keep in mind that by the end of the firing the radiant heat coming from the open fire door (where the wood is thrown into the kiln) will light your clothes on fire in about 10 seconds. In a summer firing it is impossible to stay cool and is both hard on the body and can lead to poor decisions if things are not going well in the firing.

For years in this part of the country it always seems to be the case that it will rain sometime during a firing. In the winter one counts on snow. About 2/3 of the way through this firing we had freezing rain. About an inch of it. Actually, the freezing rain fell at least 50 feet from the kiln. The heat near the kiln at that point left me standing in the rain for 8 hours. In the distance I could hear trees and limbs falling from the weight of the ice. But I didn’t really believe the rain was freezing until the sun came up and I could see it.

Despite being soggy all the way through my clothes, the firing went well and on schedule. The behavior was very much like the previous firing and so I think I now understand the kiln pretty well and can count on getting the front to Cone 12 and the back to Cone 10 (in other words, just right).

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  1. Great to learn about the dynamics of a wood firing. It’s soooo informative for the non-ceramicists like myself! Thanks.

  2. That sounds like a real labor of love. I’d really like to see more pictures of the kiln, and the pieces that come out! (Really dig the heads! 👍) Should you ever find your way back to Telluride, please come sit and have a chat!!

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