Woodkiln Demolition: A step by step guide.

Step 1: Take down the chimney. Here's the train kiln, with chimney almost down, and after the outer layer of chicken wire and concrete was removed (with Jesse's super handy pneumatic hammer).

Step 1: Take down the chimney. Here's the train kiln, with chimney almost down, and after the outer layer of chicken wire and concrete was removed (with Jesse's super handy pneumatic hammer).

Step 3: Build a wooden form to jack up the arch, then start removing the arch from back to front.

Step 3: Build a wooden form to jack up the arch, then start removing the arch from back to front.

Step 4: Take down the firebox. This involved removing the steel for the door, taking off a top layer of shelves and fibre blanket, and slowly starting to hammer out the bricks one by one.

Step 4: Take down the firebox. This involved removing the steel for the door, taking off a top layer of shelves and fibre blanket, and slowly starting to hammer out the bricks one by one.

Step 5: Use any means possible to take the rest of the rear of the kiln down. For us this ranged from gentle tapping and chiselling, to me standing in the kiln whacking the back wall down with the sledgehammer. Some of the bricks were so stuck together that they were not salvageable.

Step 5: Use any means possible to take the rest of the rear of the kiln down. For us this ranged from gentle tapping and chiselling, to me standing in the kiln whacking the back wall down with the sledgehammer. Some of the bricks were so stuck together that they were not salvageable.

Step 8: Grind and stack bricks on pallets. Stretch wrap and prepare for delivery.

Step 8: Grind and stack bricks on pallets. Stretch wrap and prepare for delivery.

For almost a year now, my good friend (and fellow woodfiring potter) Duncan have been working towards building our very own wood kiln. The last three years of my business have relied on the generosity of other potters - letting me rent space in their kilns, letting me crash on their couches or in a tent in their backyard, feeding me, allowing me to flit and fleet from one firing to the next (often on the same weekend), just so I can get my work made.

My studio practice has gotten to a place where I am making more work than I can possibly fire in other people's kilns. And I'm also at a production level that is a little less flexible when it comes to scheduling. Just like quitting a part-time job or hiring an employee, sometimes you can't grow unless you really start to invest in what it is you are doing.

Being a potter without a kiln, is like being a woodworker without a woodshop.  I'm a potter, so I need a kiln.


The first step to building your own woodkiln (aside from finding a location and working out the logistics of land leases and building permits etc. etc.) is to collect your materials.

Lucky for me, my husband (and neighbours) have patiently put up with me storing to-be-kiln-materials in my backyard, pretty much since we bought the place three years ago. I've been collecting insulating bricks and kiln furniture, steel and shelves for years now - and wood... I've stored LOTS and lots of wood. All we needed was some hard brick.

This past weekend Duncan and I, with the help of my partner Jesse and Duncan's brother Mike, tore down an existing woodkiln up north, and prepared the bricks to be delivered down to Hamilton. Our motto for this kiln: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We're using pretty much exclusively reused materials, repurposing old kiln shelves for our floor, and trying to reduce the amount of waste by using everything we possibly can! It was a lot of work, but we now have 10 skids of high temperature brick, all the steel we could need, and of course, we learned a TON in the process.

A big thank you to everyone who has helped us with this project so far!!

Step 9: Eat lots of girl guide cookies, listen to sweet tunes, and get a good night's rest after. Happy potters are we.

Step 9: Eat lots of girl guide cookies, listen to sweet tunes, and get a good night's rest after. Happy potters are we.

Step 2: Remove bag wall. This checkerboard wall was fused together, and needed to be smashed out with a sledgehammer.

Step 2: Remove bag wall. This checkerboard wall was fused together, and needed to be smashed out with a sledgehammer.

The guys.. demonstrating safe kiln removal wear (ie. respirators)

The guys.. demonstrating safe kiln removal wear (ie. respirators)

We make a good team! Arch is almost down!

We make a good team! Arch is almost down!

Step 6: Remove the last arch over the doorway, with wooden form and 2x4s for jacks. Also, appropriate footwear.

Step 6: Remove the last arch over the doorway, with wooden form and 2x4s for jacks. Also, appropriate footwear.

Step 7: Pull up the floor, and unbolt the steel frame from the ground. Note the pile of rubble in the background - a much smaller pile than we anticipated!

Step 7: Pull up the floor, and unbolt the steel frame from the ground. Note the pile of rubble in the background - a much smaller pile than we anticipated!

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.  

Flying

The summer has been passing by before my eyes at lightning speed. I have only have four weeks left in Wiarton, before I head back to the big city and try to make it on my own. The past few weeks have been filled with visitors, weddings and other wedding-related events, firings, pot-making and planning for the end of the summer. I have barely had time to sit down and read Game of Thrones (a novel I have been slowly getting through for over three months now), or play my piano - I just can't keep up! IMG_3732I will be doing another wood firing at the end of August, with four other potters in the Hamilton Potter's Guild. So, I have decided that it's about time I start making some mugs - as they are the most purchased and most intimate pottery item, along with bowls. Before working for Tim, handles always scared me, and as a lover of handle-less cups, I rarely ever made mugs. My customers have always been disappointed, "How am I supposed to hold it?!" they ask. Apparently, some people don't like toasting their fingers when they drink their coffee (though I argue you are more likely to burn your mouth if you hold it by the handle) so last week I happily conformed and started cranking out some mugs.

Of course, I couldn't help myself, so I HAD to make some mini mugs - perfect for your morning espresso, a shot of whiskey, or, if you want to make medication fancy, you could knock back a swig of Buckleys. Who knows where these little guys will find themselves? Once they're out in the wide, wide world, anything could happen.

 

IMG_3701

TOAE 2013

At every Toronto show that I attend, I can't help but feel that the art and craft communities seem to be shrinking. However after this weekend, I have come to realise that the communities are not small, rather I am starting to know more and more of the members. Take this year's Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE 2013) for example. A former classmate and I went down to the show yesterday morning at 10am, planning to be home by the time the sun was highest in the sky. Instead, it was nearly 6pm when I finally arrived home - sporting a wicked sunburn and blistered feet. I've been lucky to make it through a (large) art show in under 3 hours only once before. This is a feat that was relatively impossible, especially when it seemed that every other booth had somebody that I knew, and stopped to chat with (not to mention all of the enticing artwork that one could spend hours feasting their eyes on). IMG_3587

The technician at Sheridan jokes that TOAE should be called the SAAE - Sheridan's Annual Alumni Exhibition, as there are so many former grads who participate in the show. My classmate and I stopped at one of our colleague's booth and within ten minutes, there were 7 Sheridan students (current and alumni) all crammed in, catching up and admiring the work. We joked that it was as if a fog horn had gone off, alerting Sheridan alumni everywhere to congregate at Yellow Booth 259.

[gallery type="square" ids="940,942,944,945,946,947,949,950"]

It was hot and humid, but a delightful day for a show. Nathan Phillips Square was packed with a sea of white tents, and a larger sea of moving bodies. The range of work at the show was enticing - installation, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, glass, jewellery, painting, photography, and more! Much more! After spending seven hours looking at prices, checking out booth designs, networking and catching up with friends, I feel strongly encouraged by this venue. Maybe TOAE 2014 will be in the cards for me next year.

Until then, I'll just keep making pots.

JULY13-2

These are some juice cups fresh from the wood-soda kiln. Looking forward to more of these.