Choo Choo

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks, as I was at a conference, and then studio reno-ing (more on that another day) and then Supercrawl. A start of a busy September indeed!

Hamilton mugs! 

Hamilton mugs! 

Now that I'm back in the swing of things (and the fire bans have been lifted), I've stuffed my van with pots and have headed up north to start firing for the holiday season! This is my first time firing a train kiln, a kiln design that looks like a train car, and when fired correctly should make that warm and cozy chugging sound. My kind of sound. 

Pots unpacked and ready to be loaded

Pots unpacked and ready to be loaded

This firing is particularly special, as it is the last firing this kiln will ever see! After unloading next week, Duncan Aird and I will be tearing her down, and giving the bricks a new life in our very own kiln back down in the Hammer! Buildings are underway and we're hoping to have the beauty built before Christmas. 

So I'm up here toasting this sweet kiln many thanks, with good company, and good food, and looking forward to many firings ahead!

Jeff Martens, loading the kiln like a boss. 

Jeff Martens, loading the kiln like a boss. 

Stacked.  

Stacked.  

Wadding

I adore atmospheric firings, and the pieces that come out of them. These special kilns create a certain type of magic that no electric kiln could ever dream of. The wood kiln leaves deposits of ash in the bases of bowls, and leaves fire marks from where the flame licked across the pot's surface. Salt and soda attack the surface of the clay, leaving orange-peel speckling and a variety in colour and tone. While loading them with pots, there is a fleeting sense of anxiety, as the results will depend on the will of the kiln gods. john martelle

One of my favourite marks from atmospheric firings are the tell-tale "doofer" (or "wadding") marks. Doofer is a mixture of highly refractory materials that will not sinter at high heat. Due to the extreme conditions of atmospheric firings, everything in the kiln (including the kiln shelves and posts) need to be stacked onto little rolled up balls, in order to keep the pieces from fusing to the shelves (destroying the pieces, and the kiln furniture) and the furniture from fusing to each other. The doofer lifts the pieces up off the shelf, so the space underneath is exposed to licking flames, and drifting soda/salt vapours. This leaves behind little marks where the clay was not exposed to the atmospheric conditions.

While photographing some of my cups today, I was reminded of my love for these little hints of process, heat, and air. I can't wait to join Marcelina Salazar in her wood-fired soda kiln so I can get some more pieces with lovely little marks.

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