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.