Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fat Lady/Piano Scenario

My pots from the first wood-fire

A couple of Sydney's cups with nice flashing and ash runs

What we saw when we unbricked the door

After another exhausting day's critique at Tel Hai- 16 students,7 hours- I helped Sydney unload the wood kiln; as often happens when you think your firing was not so successful,the pots told a different story. It looks like we reached cone 7 in quite a few parts of the kiln [not the cone 9 we were aiming for,a difference of 40 degrees,but still a lot closer than we thought],with flashing from the ash on almost everything. Some glazes didn't "open",but will probably respond to refiring in the next gas firings. We have to fix two or three things on the kiln,but feel much better about what we achieved. Sydney [normally the more impetuous of the two of us] is inclined to try another firing to cone 9 with glazes,but I think that next time we should go for cone 10 and chuck in some salt.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tsfat Space

His Gallery
Another great Tsfat space is being restored- it used to be Isaac Amitai's gallery.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Dylan put it so well- there's no success like failure...
Shir [one of the valiant stokers] says that cone 8 was starting to move when they called it a day...

Quite Close,Definitely No Cigar

Looks promising,no?

Current apprentice Darya stoking through hole in front door

But lots of smoke.
I have long felt that the best way to learn about a new kiln is to have a few difficult firings to start with,and yesterday's first firing of our wood kiln was a classic proof. After warming up to 350º overnight with a gas burner,we started burning wood at 11 a.m. and were making steady progress until the early afternoon when the lid of the firebox developed a significant warp; I had just settled into the Bourry-style rhythm of stoking wood,which seems like an interesting and effective system,but flame and smoke escaping past the warped lid made it impossible to continue. After some trial and error,we found a pattern of stoking through the air-hole in the firebox front door which took us up to cone 3,or 1160º- probably close to 1200º at the front shelf; but by then,as invariably happens with wood-firings,we were all fairly wrecked from 12 hours sawing, shlepping and stoking on a hot day,and called a halt around midnight. I suspect that another 6-8 hours of concentration and focus would have got us there,but there you go. I think that there are some structural issues with this kiln,which I shall discuss with Sydney when we've all recovered,calmed down [and opened the kiln]. Of course it was frustrating not to reach temperature,but Sydney and I agreed that between us we have enough years' background to take the experience in our stride- we're doing this more to learn [at this stage] than to produce pots,and we both know that you learn incomparably more when things don't go according to plan.
Our wood- pallet offcuts- was excellent,by the way-very little ash to clog airways,masses of quick heat and uniformity of size- a pleasure.Those door-plugs I made also held up well [somewhat to my surprise],remaining stuck to their doors and forming a good seal against leaking flame and smoke.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ready for Lift-Off

Enlarged airholes in lid
Batt-wash on floor,protective shelf over mouse-hole grid
Bricking up the door
Stoke-door plugs

A busy,hard and sweaty day's work with Sydney yesterday; we cut and stacked a pile of wood,cleaned up bricks and built the side/loading door,sliced soft-brick and constructed sealing plugs for the smaller stoking doors,enlarged the primary air-holes in the firebox lid and coated the firebox with bat-wash to protect the brick-work from ash deposits [not that we anticipate much ash from our cone 9 first firing]. We ended the day lightly coated with sawdust,brick-dust,battwash and aluminum-calcium cement.The next thing that happens is lighting the fire...

Site-Specific Installation

Artists' Quarter,Tsfat

Sunday, June 19, 2011


262º 920º 1250º 1320º
I just discovered how to do the "degree" symbol after years of writing it out in full. I was sure it was there somewhere! This morning I was looking for a keyboard shortcut to open the camera [to take a picture of a glaze recipe on a scrap of paper] when I came upon it [together with a host of wonderful signs]- alt and 0. It even makes sense,so I mighty even remember it.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Quite a few visitors in the studio today,and quite a few sales, I'm happy to report- so I didn't get too much work done; I pulled some handles for yesterday's small mugs,stuck them on and tidied them up,and now I have an hour or so to throw before packing up for Shabbat.

A Boon for the Studio Potter

Further development of the self-throwing clay I showed you a while ago; I wonder if there's such a thing as self-trimming clay? Must have a look for some...Click title for video...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Keren Hayesod

My twilight constitutional takes me along the street where fallen mulberries and pomegranate buds catch the last rays of the sun. The mulberries were one of Roschild's bright ideas- Tsfat silk?- that didn't catch on: I have studiously avoided making ceramic pomegranates,but am assured by my son Eliav [who works up the road in a collection of galleries called "Sarah's Tent",mention my name and he'l give you a good price} that that's where the money is. Maybe something tasteful in porcelain,with a copper-red glaze?

Thursday, June 02, 2011


a new way to post from iPhone

Kiln Progress

The hobs built up;wood sits across the white bricks on each side of fire-box,flame roars under arch into kiln,embers drop to ash-pit below...

Back shelf,exit flue to chimney,side-stoking door...

First shelf & bag wall...

Fly Wing

Beautifully irridescent,caught in a web in the firebox...


The roof of the gas kiln at Tel Hai got blown up [don't ask...]- luckily,not much damage to students,pots [or kiln]-
Roof carefully stripped,ready to replace/rebuild the arch...

Another view of the collapsed arch-surprisingly little damage to pots...

A Nice Leaf from Pardes Hanna