Saturday, October 27, 2007

From the Salt

I think it was William Blake who said, "The path of excess leads to the road to wisdom",or words to that effect- this last salt firing being a classic example. We unloaded the kiln on Thursday [still using the old door; Sydney thinks we may have cast the new one using Motza,a local earthenware clay,instead of S-5,a Negev fireclay,which might lead to it melting at around 1250 degrees,not a temperature at which you normally want your kiln door to start melting. He also thinks that the alumina/refractory parts of the mix would counteract this,but it would be wise to proceed cautiously,so we are nursing the old door with great care]. It was a good firing- salt everywhere and aplenty,maybe a bit too much.Cone 10 was well down- maybe too far gone:I also think that there was too much wood [I only used a shopping-bag full,about 3 small scraps per salt stoke],and possibly too strong reduction. In short- just a bit too far over the edge. It might be only one of these variables [or two] but who has the patience for scientific method- I'll try to back off all round next firing and see where that gets us. Part of this mild excess is to do with [lack of] confidence in the kiln: in the past we have struggled to get to temperature,and have tended to err on the "not enough" side.Part of it is inevitable-you just don't know how far "too far" is until you've reached it.
The pictures were taken in strong late-afternoon lighting in the studio,hence shadows. You can see cone 10 in the bottom picture at the right. the lidded jar is the first lidded piece I've fired in the salt- you have to set the lid on wads in its gallery and then wad the bottom of the jar,quite a fiddly procedure.


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