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 1300ยบ] 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


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