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Firing the Kiln

Third Firing, Page 3
Oct. 11, 2003 (11:00 pm) - Oct. 17, 2003 (7:00 am)

Here is Tom, stoking the kiln. During the day, we tend to "stealth stoke", i.e., load two or three large pieces and allow a reasonable amount of air into the kiln. This gives us about 15 seconds of dark smoke, and even then, it isn't as black as it can be. I figure this minimizes the chance of people complaining. I am however worried about the effects of such an oxidizing atmosphere.

Allen came by later and stayed overnight. Here you see him stirring the embers.

Allen nodded off between stokes.

As did Andrea.

In fact, everyone does it - You only hope someone doesn't grab the camera and take a silly picture.

Here is a closeup of the kiln monitoring system. The digital multimeter (DMM) on the left reads the front probe, the one on the right reads the back probe. Each DMM connects to the probes through an equal length of wire and their readings are consistent with each other: e.g., connect one to the front probe and take a reading, then connect the other and take a reading, the readings are identical. I feel they give an accurate reading of the difference between the front and back. The analog pyrometer can be connected to the leads of either probe, but it isn't calibrated for the length or gauge of wire used here - it is wildly off the mark so it sees little use.

We had some wind Thursday and Friday, but not like in the first firing. The winds maxed out at around 37 knots (19 m/s) this time.

Here I am stirring the coals...

Then stoking. Note that although it looks like I just tossed a log in, I am probably actually pulling my hand out of the kiln. The wood is more or less dropped into place rather than thrown. The pottery is too close to just be hucking wood in the kiln, but after a while, you get very good at very quickly setting a piece in place and withdrawing your hand. The welder's gloves last a single firing. By the end, the fingers are about an inch long (2.5 cm) and hard as rock.

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