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Firing Log

ancient kiln | 21st century logbook

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March 26, 2006

The Day Before

Filed under: anagama,anagama, 6th,Firing,Kiln — odin @ 12:08 am

This isn’t going to be a themed entry, just an outline of the day before loading. I’m also not spell-checking it. Too tired.

Woke up, went out to the kiln and loaded my Jetta Truck (FN 1) with propane tanks: one 20 pounder, a 30, and two 40s. Drove into town to get gas — the feed store was busy like I’ve never seen it. I had to go in twice to ask for someone to pump gas. Of course, he sees all the tanks and asks what I need all the gas for. I know he’s just fishing for whether I’m running a meth lab. I should have said “I’m making a batch of crank” just to see what happened. Silly really, as if a cooker is going to tell the truth. So I explained about the kiln, pre-heating, blah blah blah. I just wanted to get gone.

Arriving back at the kiln, I moved a three wheelbarrow loads of dirt to fill a hole I shouldn’t have dug. It was good — after building the kiln, I kind of like digging.

Next I pulled out the thermocouples, turned on the digital multimeters and the computer, fired up a torch, and made sure the kiln monitor was working. It was. So I replaced them, restrung the wires from the probes to the computer, and moved another three wheelbarrow loads of dirt onto the kiln. The dirt on the top had worn away. Once all the organics in the dirt have burned off, it turns “Mars Dust Red” and is easily blown off. The layer on top of the kiln was down to the outer crust of the kiln so I spread about three inches of fresh soil over it. The digging was fun.

After that, I pulled out the bricks blocking the entrance … with some trepidation I might add. I knew the cats had been going in and out of the sutema for some time (until I recently closed it off) and I was worried there might be some major stink. I had nothing to fear as it turns out. They were living in the sutema and cats don’t “do their business” where they live. So I crawled in and inspected the ceiling. It looks OK but there are some gaps that concern me. I might rebuild it this summer. Some of the bricks are building up some pretty blobs of glass.

So, ceiling inspection done, I turned my attention to the floor. Some of the bricks I use as post piers were sloping downward. I want them to slope more toward the back of the kiln so that the kiln shelves won’t fall forward into the firebox. It’s OK if they lean to the back a little because the back of the kiln and intervening shelves will support them. Leaning forward is a disaster. So I started sweeping out sand and moving bricks and leveling them off with fired bits of wadding and sometimes new wadding with old bits shoved into the new stuff. I poured new sand and generally got it ready for tomorrow’s loading. That took most of the day. The cats came in and checked it out. They approve I think.

anagama kiln cats
Then I arranged the door bricks. Sometime last summer, I had broken my special brick (2.5″ thick, 9″ wide, 23″ long), so I had to cut a new tile brick to fit from the stock size (2.5 x 12 x 24). Got that done and finished arranging the door. I’ll pull those out tomorrow and set them aside to make closing the doorway easy (won’t have to sort through random bricks).

Sometime during the day, I got my gas burner back. Some years ago I built a raku kiln and it gets used by a group that does pottery through the local community college. Anyway, I think I’m going to stop lending it because they like it configured without a regulator. I want the regulator because it helps keep the tanks from freezing as soon, and redoing the hosing is always a hassle. Realizing I was missing a fitting I needed, I had to run back into town, get the fitting, some McDonalds, and came back to the kiln. So two hours I could have used for something else: wasted. I finished the hose and put on a new regulator that accepts two bottles. That way I won’t have to turn off the burner when switching tanks.

OK, next, I did some general cleanup and organizing. Short sentence, long time. I got home at 11:30 pm.


1. I treat that car like a 1/3 ton truck. I have no qualms about stashing 200 lbs of material in each passenger seat … well, not the middle, but still, that’s 600 pounds of cargo capacity.

March 23, 2006

Galley Redecoration

Filed under: anagama,Kiln,shed — odin @ 8:35 pm

Today, I managed to get most of the way through the last major task I wanted to finish before loading day (March 26, 2006): I closed off a corner of the galley level. I won’t go into the firing pit configuration, that is outlined extensively in my section about building the kiln.

The current galley configuration:

old galley at anagama site

This configuration wasn’t designed, it was simply hastily made before the first firing. The blue chair is in front of a shelf on which I set the campstove. A 20# propane tank currently sits to the right of the shelf (not shown in this picture obviously). With the stove, tank and the hose, very little of the galley deck remains usable. Worse, there is virtually no storage space for food and drinks. Enough, I say!

Today I built a corner wall to the right side of the galley and a floor. Well, I almost finished before running out of wood. The floor is at ground level which makes it waist high when standing on the galley floor. I will move the stove to the new space, put the gas tank outside and run its hose under the floor, and put up some shelves for storage. Stove space will go from about three square feet to 16 — we’re talking a Taj Mahal class shack kitchen. And even better, the galley deck will become more than than a mere walkway — I’ll be able to put chairs up there for a nice bird’s eye view of the action.

Check out the new construction:

new galley at anagama site

Note, the blocks are on the plywood to weight them while the glue dries. I know I should fill the cinderblock holes with concrete and plant bolts to fasten a cap to the foundation. I’m so sick of mixing concrete and carrying it around I figured I’d take a chance and cheat — so I spent $11 on construction adhesive that’s supposed to bond everything. We’ll see how it goes — if it doesn’t work, I will grudgingly buy a couple sacks of concrete and go that route.

No matter what happens with the glue experiement, I’m still exceptionally pleased that I’m going to have such a capacious cooking area and extra sitting space. Yeah — I’m stoked!!

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