Monday, March 30, 2009
Aah,there are so many of them...
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Last night I took my first shift with the anagama,along with reb Meir and a gaggle of helpers, camp followers and assorted pyromaniacs. We were stoking olive wood,but even that was getting eaten up more and more rapidly by the hungry kiln - 20 minutes between stoking at around 8 o'clock soon dropped to 10,and the temperature was rising steadily. The pyrometer was reading in the high hundreds,and towards the end we looked for a 900 degree cone at the front and decided that it must have gone down,since we couldn't see it. I just talked to Meir,who says that cone 10 is down this morning ,the olive is being mixed with eucalyptus to give faster heat [and its unique ash effects] and all bodes well. I'm looking forward to rejoining the firing later this evening. The two main lessons leant from last year's first firing of this kiln seem to be 1] dry wood [and the right sort] and 2] a larger opening for air under the grate; last year's firing got a bit choked up,while this year's version,almost twice as big,was sucking in air at a satisfying rate.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
My knees,back and neck remind me that I spent yesterday with Meir and Pnina at Pardes Hanna loading the anagama: we got up to the second step,with 5 still to load. Excitement mounts,as do piles of wood for the firing: Meir claims to have around 30 cubic metres already,but is waiting for another 30 just to be on the safe side [the firing takes 20 cube,but the wood takes a year to dry/season properly - green wood takes heat out of the kiln until it reaches its combustion point,whereas dry wood gives up its heat much more quickly and efficiently]. Back next week for another round of loading: firing starts the Monday after that.
I spent a fascinating and muddy morning last week with Professor Sharon Zuckerman at the Tel Hatzor excavation site,where they are digging up [carefully] all kinds of interesting things. I have long felt that archeologists don't talk much to potters [and,inevitably,vice versa] Many museums tell you fairly obvious information [e.g. "red earthenware pot"] where one would like to know stuff like firing temperature and atmosphere,kiln type and where the clay came from. Sharon sent me these microphotographs of thin slices of fired clay,and claims that she can tell what the various lumps are. At a first glance,I would say they're pretty obviously all earthenware,since the particles haven't fused - I wonder what porcelain looks like...
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Meir starts loading his anagama tomorrow [I hope to be there on Thursday] so I thought it was about time to make another batch of pots. As you can see [starting from the bottom] I threw some tallish cylinders [a mixture of meir's clay recipe and Limoges porcelain],sliced them into strips when leatherhard,rejoined them to make triangular shapes [refined by planing with the Surform] and added a similar neck made from sections of the skinniest one. They happened rather spontaneously,but are the next step in a shape and technique that I've been playing with for quite a few years. I think of anagama pots as sails spread in the wind of the kiln,trying to catch the stream of heat and ash. I'm always concerned [often with good reason] that my joining technique is not quite strong enough,and that the pots will split or buckle under the stress of the firing [they usually fall on /get stuck to Meir's pots].