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windows in your kiln

updated sun 30 dec 01


karen terpstra on sat 29 dec 01

Mel wrote: we would not get any work done during firings...we would
be staring in there...`man, look at those flames, see that smoke
swirl, hey sheila, come look`.
....on the other hand...

I had forgotten about my "window in the kiln" experience until the
recent posts. They've got me thinking again....

When I was in grad school a few years ago, someone went to the local
glass Co. for some kind of fireplace strength glass. He installed a 5" x
5" piece of glass in the front part of the firebox of an anagama. It was
fun to watch for awhile, we could see the pots heating up, color
starting, and coal bed mounting up. Curious people like me were
mesmerized by it. Then it covered up for a while with carbon and we
thought the fun was over but...

The carbon burned off and it was fun to watch again, a real novelty. It
kept the novices like me out of the spy holes and taking all those peeks
into the firebox door. I was always wasting so much precious heat by my
curiosity. Sneaking peeks behind everyone's back. (But that's another
learning experience everyone has to go through.) Through that little
window we watched red go to orange, to yellow, to white. We could see
silvery ash and runs on pots.

The glass had cracked during the firing but still held together until
the end (cone 11-12). We took it out after that because it wouldn't have
lasted the next firing. Didn't bother with it again. It was allot of
work making the hole in the brick and castable and then patching it up

I think it was a valuable learning experience for us students to watch
the atmosphere in the firebox. When I started grad school, I had never
seen a wood kiln before, I couldn't even pronounce "Anagama". I had no
clue about wood firing, stoking, atmosphere, etc. The "glass window"
firing made it easier for more experienced people to explain what was
going on during the firing also. That one firing with that little
window was good for me. Makes me want to share that experience with my
students but no way will I cut a hole in our new kiln for one firing
with glass!

Maybe someone at ACerS could get us up-to-date on glass. Joyce may be
right, it's something Potters Council could look into. We have the
information at our fingertips.

Happy New Years,
Karen Terpstra
La Crosse, WI