Friday, March 26, 2010


View through the firemouth
Pulling out a ring to check progress [it looked good]
Meir style: anagama with red plastic chandelier

A wonderful shift at Meir's anagama: the kiln had reached 1300 degrees when Ohad and I pitched up around 11.30 last night to take over from Meir,who was visibly wrecked [but happy] after a long hot day's stoking and went off to catch some sleep. It took us an hour or so to find the rhythm of the kiln [it often takes 3 or 4],watching the pyrometer rise and fall as the hungry kiln devoured its load of wood and the roaring reduction flame jets on top of the kiln subsided before sliding open the door and tossing another load of 7-8 pieces of wood. The temperature dips as the new wood initially soaks up heat, then starts to climb slowly back up as the wood starts to deliver it's hot hydrocarbons,sending long orange flames coursing through the kiln to and out of the chimney 10 meters back, while the mineral ash carried on the draught settles and melts like flakes of snow on the pots,gradually over the 4 day firing building up layers and patterns of glaze. After a few minutes we stoke long, skinny logs though the first 2 windows on either side to start drawing the heat back through the kiln, then barrow more wood from one of the many mounds of different woods (eucalyptus, olive,cypress) stacked by type and size around the kiln pit down a precarious ramp , ready for the next stoke. When our attention drifted from the kiln [various interesting late-night guests] it would respond by dropping 20 or 30 degrees,but a couple of mindful stokes would bring it simmering back up to a boil,the full unbelievable blast of heat greeting you as,wrapped,goggled and gloved you step up to deliver its next meal,right on time.
Seven hour of this,stoking every 15-20 minutes,leaves you slightly stunned but wonderfully attuned to the huge kiln,so that now,half a day later,as Shabbat draws near,I can still feel that low roar and crackle of the fire and the presence of the smoking,flaming,breathing dragon.


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