I did not realize that once I delved into the realm of VITRIFICATION (in terms of clay) that I would first encounter the wonderful beautiful magnificent being known as the Tardigrade.. because they have Biological Vitrification!
Imagine that… what does THAT mean? 😀
On a side note I think the Tardigrade is kinda odd-cute, with so much for humanity to learn more about it. And the name reminds me of Dr. Who’s Tardis .. interesting pairing, don’t cha think? But I digress LOL
In this post I’m referencing Vitrification regarding Clay. And I found some new insightful information that expands the knowledge base – from Facebook of all places! A great launching pad for sure.
Here is the one tiny tidbit of knowledge to expand or support your understanding Clay Vitrification:
A. Miller (posted in the Pottery Heads Facebook Group, Aug. 28, 2020) “Check your clay manufacturers website for Absorption Rate. The lower the better. Greater than 3 is problematic for anything you want to hold liquid (vase, mug).You can also test for it by weighing your ware dry and weighing it after being submerged.”
What were your ancestors doing in the years 1127 a.d. thru 1279 a.d. (152 years)?
A sunken chinese merchant ship was found in 1987, the first ancient ship found along the Maritime Silk Road. Among the contents were 60,000 to 80,000 precious cargo, especially ceramics (The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum)!
Each piece made by hand.
Marveling at the number of hours invested to create each piece.
Imagining the life of one day of one chinese potter.
Firstly, while flying by the seat of my pants I am going to build a small hard fire brick pit fire (much smaller than the photo above). I think two of the bigger things I’m slightly giddy about are what oxides I’m going to add to combustibles and whether/how to do Sagar with tin foil with dried banana peels!
Recently the Universe blessed me with the meeting of two very lovely people, “George and Patty” who sold me their lot of hard fire bricks. George is a potter who had created some amazing pieces, two of which I was graced with seeing up close and personal. This adventure was truly a gift on multiple levels. Two trips to load up these bricks with my oldest grandson has brought me priceless treasured memories to cherish the rest of my days.
Do you wanna build a Snowman?
How about some figurines?
Pieces fired in the initial firings are TOTALLY experimental. In other words it’ll be an exercise in LETTING GO. Wanna join me?
Here’s an interesting thought… how much BTU will be consumed in a 1.4 cubic foot container (aka the Pit Fire) per hour? http://www.kylesconverter.com/energy,-work,-and-heat/cubic-yards-of-atmosphere And what is a BTU? LOL (answer: British Thermal Unit) “Most common use of term BTU in everyday language. Energy required to raise the temperature of 1lb of water by 1°F. Approximately 1.05505585262 x 103 Joules (SI).” Okay that was fun to tossle around in my brain before I refocused on the next step… which is to choose an option for an insulating variable.
Ceramic Fiber Board vs Ceramic Fiber Blanket (1″ #8 density with ITC https://amzn.to/2NLNmnA) vs justICT) or just 100 ITC… or just “wing it” LOL!
The passion potters possess pertaining to pit fire pottery is a hot topic! The more I work toward this direction the more excitement builds – tempered with the grounding mantra “it’s an experiment” of course.
Here is a great example of awesome pit fire work, found on Facebook, Guarnera Potter – be sure to check out his other pieces on Facebook!
Excitement builds as bricks lay heavy in my mind. In a good way.
Building a pit-fire kiln has tickled the daydreaming niches of possibilities. Almost every day.
This book is hard to find But I bought it anyway.
And this Blog Inspired me in many ways!
Always thought it would be fashionable to wear one of these – especially with the bold colors, strong patterns, with some hanging chains of some kind of functionality and maybe even a throwing axe? LOL
Yes, the next step towards converting an electric kiln to a Raku kiln is getting a burner kit. A few options exist, including the:
<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://<!– wp:paragraph –> <p>Yes, the next step towards converting an electric kiln to a Raku kiln is getting a burner kit. A few options exist, such as the Raku Burner Kit from Axner.com/Laguna <br><img class="wp-image-1413" style="width: 150px;" src="https://oneidashark.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/raku_burner_kit.jpg" alt="undefined"></p> Raku Burner Kit from Axner.com
Ward Burner B3 Dual Burner System
Next steps for electric kiln to Raku conversion:
Remove the wire elements
Fill in or patch areas where soft (insulating) brick is thin or missing
Drill hole in metal and insulating bricks… maybe at a slight angle so the fire/flames circulate inside the kiln OR keep straight on. Either way it may be important to have an angled soft (insulating) brick to direct the flames to affect more wares
Refit the lid with ceramic fiber and/or other do other repairs.
Add wheels to the kiln stand
Secure the kiln to the kiln stand
Create a wooden ramp from the kiln storage area to the outside
Bonus: Possibly create a lid-sliding feature to act as a quick storage feature when opening the kiln during a fire
*During this time, I’ll start collecting dried organic combustibles, including, but not limited to: newspaper, sawdust, pine needles, and dried leaves. Closer to the firing time I plan to use discarded banana peels too. The great thing about this is to experiment (with care).
We survived the self quarantine. My heart and humility goes out to those who died or knew someone who died of Covid-19. Our lives were turned askew. We went through confusion, fear, depression and ultimately (hopefully) reconnected or connection with God and our higher power and Universe (deep self reflection). We are new survivors!
As states started to reopen in phases I found myself being gifted with kilns, as the universe heard my desire (or I fell in tune with my universal fate/destiny/path) to do some alternative pottery firings! I did purchase some hard refractory bricks.
After a recent class at the Clayscapes Pottery studio that focused on Alternative Firing methods I was keen on doing some more Raku, specifically Horsehair pieces.
In the process of getting ready to do my own Raku (a service provided by Clayscapes Pottery) I realized my advancement in Raku pottery research actually expanded to more appreciation for glaze recipes as I noted the ‘Copper Matte‘ options (see below):
Here is a run down of my pre-raku items of note:
No thin necks (hard to grasp with the tongs)
No tall slender objects (may fall over easily in the ‘reduction’ phase)
Lids are fired in the kiln separately so this takes up space on the kiln shelf. Note: Andrew from Clayscapes Pottery says he has a method of firing lids so they don’t crack on the shelf – I’ll keep you updated with this helpful hint
Burnishing is fun and meditative (on greenware) & is necessary if applying Terra Sig (for Horsehair prep)
Horsehair or Glaze
Horsehair – thicker hair is better. Good to have a friend with horses. Being grateful for this helps add another dimension of “Heartfelt Pottery”.
Glazing the inside – Question: is this feasible? If so, is this solely to help retain liquids? Otherwise I’d think I won’t use interior glaze as the Raku technique produces a porous piece (i.e. not ‘functional’). Most of the pieces I am looking to create are to serve as a storage container for things that don’t need air-tightness or fluid retention. Talking about this with a potential customer is a must!
Copper Matte – ooooh nice, and then sealing
Raku Kiln Firing
Making an adequate number of pieces is important to me – I don’t want to create too little and waste time at the kiln or my money spent renting the kiln firing. I guess making too much isn’t a bad thing as I could always do another firing!
The kiln shelf is 18″ (254.5 square inches), so 1/4 area of the shelf is 9″ x 9″ x ?? – however I think I could fit 2 max 5″ wide pieces w/their lids, in each 1/4 panel area without overcrowding (and without making the maneuvering with the tongs a challenge). The total for the shelf would then be 4 lidded piece + 1 piece without a lid place in the center, for a total of 5 pieces per load. And since the minimum # of load is 2 per firing, then we’re looking at a max of 10.
One way to find out is draw or print out an 18″ circle.
Working with the Raku Kiln firing facilitator about the choreography of us ‘dancing’ around & doing steps so we don’t bump into each other or let a pot not get the horsehair or reduction treatment in a timely temperature fashion.
Scrub Brush to clean pieces after the firing
Clothes: Long sleeved shirt, closed-toe footwear, no polyester clothing
Pan with Sand – to lay horsehair down and roll the piece (if desired)
Combustibles? I don’t know yet if I need to bring my own Sawdust and newspaper, which are popular combustibles
Sealant to help keep the colors from fading, after cleaning pieces
It’s so heartwarming to me that my heart warms when I think of the whole process of creating wood-fired pottery. In addition, I’ve tasked myself with doing some RAKU pottery, mainly because of the mystery of the results, experience from a recent alternate-firing class at Clayscapes Pottery, but also because a cool friend gave me some horsehair so I could do some Horsehair pottery!
Horsehair Raku Pottery Inspirations
It’s 2020 and life threw me some lemons, so I’ve been making lemonade but my mind daydreams often of making pottery.
Raku Pottery Kiln
The first few months of this year has been focused on PREPARING to do a RAKU session – figuring out how many pieces to make to maximize the my first full raku session (2 kiln firings), then creating, burnishing, bisquing, etc. During this time doing research on the RAKU process and options – what materials to purchase (tongs, gloves, sand, turnstyle, glazes, etc), what glaze options for non-horsehair pieces, getting feathers, etc. During this time also thinking of learning enough to try doing my own RAKU with a DIY kiln or outright purchase of a RAKU kiln. Time will tell.
A friend gifted me with an old electric kiln. I plan to convert to a Raku kiln! Grateful and honored be I ❤
Currently I purchased a burner, a pyrometer, ceramic fiber board (to be used with the deteriorating lid, maybe), a drill bit to make a burner hole. Next is to remove the elements, fill in any soft firebrick gaps, make holes (burner, flue) and buy a couple propane tanks and fuel.
Next is to build a small wood ramp to get the kiln outside and then fashion a sandpit area where I will do the reduction using upside down metal cans!
Of course I’ll have the usual trash can with combustible materials on hand to give that a try too!
Wood-fired Pottery Musing
The next phase of my daydreaming is creating pieces for this year’s woodfiring! I love doing mugs and lidded jars for this. 30 pieces is a goal, 40 pieces is a bonus, and 50 pieces would be a hoot!
Nice web posting regarding the wood-fire process, the basics, the job duties, the spirit of, etc: Monroe Clay Works
So while I drink lemonade from life’s lemons I allow myself to giggle inside like a little kid, at the thoughts of doing these 2 kiln firings: RAKU and Woodfire.
Right now I won’t over analyze why I have giggle-ness, I’m just allowing myself to enjoy it.