Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Anagama...

With your host- Simon Leach [son of David,grandson of Bernard,occasional visitor to Israel,prolific youtube performer]- interesting to see similarities & differences...Click on title...

TelHai Anagama 2012

There's a YouTube video if you click the title...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Firing...

...Shame about the pots. Well,maybe that's not the whole story [but it sounds good]. There were some nice pieces in the salt/wood kiln,but our next challenge is to get the salt more directly into the main chamber,rather than throwing it into the firebox as we have been doing. Considering that this is supposed to be a salt kiln,it was built without proper salting ports [don't ask]: I think we can work something out,maybe by busting the odd brick. But it was a great firing.
Meanwhile,the Tel Hai anagama firing is in full swing,and I am off for an hour-or-so's rest before heading out for my 8-to-2-in-the-morning shift.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shay loading the Tel Hai Anagama

Starting firing tomorrow,finishing Friday

Monday, March 26, 2012

Prettiest piece so far

Cone setting

Wood-fired Seder plate

Stoneware & porcelain

First glimpse

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chapeau, M.Bourry

The crew- Sydney,Michael,Odi,Shir and Natasha

Traditional picture of glowing heat- here at end of firing,burning down

Birds over Yesod

Bourry box in action- full of wood,no flames in your face

Whenever Sydney and I would come to the part in Steve Harrison's excellent and thorough [but badly bound] book "Laid-back Wood Firing" where he says "If your kiln is going too fast..." we would exchange a chuckle of disbelief: no longer! I'm thinking of naming our kiln "the Rocket" after Stevenson's contraption- on Wednesday [a beautiful sunny Spring day] we got the kiln up to cone 12 [somewhere over 1300º] in 8 hours,finishing the firing in around 10 1/2 hours,with 6 1/2 kilos of salt. There was a lot of smoke in the early stages,and some local residents showed up to complain- rightly so; as a result,I finally [after 3 1/2 firings] reached an understanding of how the Bourry box firing system works, and from then on we would load 10-15 pieces of wood,close the fire-box lid,and stand back in amazement looking up at the chimney,which was completely smoke-free. Necessity,in the form of unhappy neighbours,is indeed often the mother of invention. I could tell you the technique,but it won't make much sense to you until you build your own kiln. Sydney is selling bricks for 300 shekels a ton,if you're interested,which you should be. I probably let the kiln go a little too far,and we may see some damage when we unload next week,but a] I was taken by surprise by the speed of the kiln [it also doesn't ever lose temperature when stoking ,as a a regular firebox will do,but keeps on climbing], b] despite valiant and persistent side-stoking [not one of my favourite occupations,but relatively comfortable on this kiln] the back seemed cooler and I wanted as much of the kiln as possible to get a decent firing,even at the expense over over-firing the front,and c] I just wanted to see what our kiln was capable of doing; now we know. It's not every day you get to watch cone 12 flattening itself on a kiln shelf.
Apart from the speed,another huge advantage of this system is that when you open the lid to stoke,and while stoking,you aren't dealing with a mass of fire and flame in your face: you load the fresh wood onto a layer of blackened but as yet unburnt logs which are sealing off the flame underneath,so you have time to arrange the wood just so [which is critical for the box to work properly]. There,did that make sense?
Our team of dedicated/deranged pyromaniacs worked well together,which is always one of the great pleasures of wood firing, with Sydney in a regal white dressing-gown overseeing the proceedings and supplying his always-wonderful food; send him lots of Positive Vibrations on Sunday,stay tuned for opening kiln b"h Monday

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Big Day at the Tel

Shiny new gas tank
Farewell,old gas tank
Lousy IPad photos,I know- my IPhone has crashed [not that it took that much better pictures]: after months of haggling and serpentine bureaucracy,the gas company came to excavate our ancient gas tank and stick the new huge tank in an even huger hole. They sucked the gas out of the old tank into the new,replaced most of the dubious gas pipes and taps and were finished by four o'clock. Pretty efficient. We had to stop a gas kiln in mid-fire [luckily we had reached 980º,which should mean that the firing can start again tomorrow without damage to pots]. The blue cables,they assured me,lead to magnesium rods buried deep that are supposed to absorb any corrosive elements in the area. Meanwhile we all pitched in to make a large pile of last year's left-over dry seasoned wood which Eli [3rd year] and crew proceeded to saw and split into manageable and flammable pieces for next week's anagama firing. Back at Sydney's after my day in Tel Hai,I rigged up the long thermocouple and pyrometer ready for tomorrow's firing- probably no live commentary [see IPhone,above],so either come by to see how we're doing,or wait for a report.
No less impressive- on my way back,I noticed that Tsfat has acquired not one but two brand new roundabouts- one [long overdue] at the southern entrance to town,the other by what used to be Dubek [in Tsfat you show your pedigree by referring to places that no longer exist,like Dubek,the traffic light,the old Bank HaPoalim,etc]. We wait with trepidation to see what misbegotten statuary the Iriya will choose to erect on them; recent eyesores have included the Two Spies clutching their grapes but headed in opposite directions,a small purple piano and a large white artist's palette full of flowerpots.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Just as we finished loading,the skies darkened and some wonderful and necessary rain began to fall...I didn't notice when taking the picture,but isn't that a rainbow?
It seems appropriate- we're reading about the menorah [6-branched candlestick] in this week's parsha and it occurred to me this year that the rainbow and the menorah share the same shape; one shows light from above,the other from below...


And God bless all who sail in her. It took us about 5 intense hours to glaze and load the kiln,ready for firing b"h next Wednesday. This will be the third time we've fired the kiln- this time with a reworked firemouth, a layer of clay plaster sealing the firebox and chimney base and the wood cut to length and kept dry under cover. We're hoping to throw some salt,and,optimistically,put in cones from 7 to 12.


Plum trees [I think} in full bloom,Yesod HaMaala,on the way to load the kiln @ Sydney's...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Happy Purim!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

It's the brief blood- orange season; we can never find them on the market, but Helen has a friendly local source. The best way to start the day.


Four rock samples- I think from young Darya,currently wandering around Morocco- from the Spanish Alps;hit with my large hammer to reduce them to dust,waiting for the next glaze firing to see how they'll react to high heat...

Joys of the Internet

I came upon this Japanese printed paper while looking,probably,for something else entirely...

Sunday, March 04, 2012

This You Call Snow?

A smattering of snow in the garden Friday morning. There was more in Ibbikur,Amuka and points north [and lots up on the Hermon], and it has been satisfyingly chilly, but still no respectable snow here in the artists' quarter.