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farm firing

updated sun 21 may 06


mel jacobson on sat 20 may 06

a couple of folks have emailed
me wanting more information on
our quick fire at the farm..

we are firing a small minnesota flat top
kiln. very tight...small flue. the size
is something like 18 cubic feet...maybe smaller,
but not has two stacks of 9x14 shelves.
it holds about 60 mugs, teabowls and some plates.

we fire in oxy. not reduction. we loaded the
kiln with a few wet/new glazed pieces...turned
it on low for about 15 minutes...just to build up
some heat. dry things out. david had run a bisque
in that kiln the day before, so things were dry.

we lit two nils lou propane burners less than half
open. about 16-18 lbs of pressure at the tank/
we took out the damper, added kaowool at the port.
so, it was wide open. we do not want any reduction
or back pressure. we walked away from the kiln....
about 20 feet and started glazing and loading the salt
kiln. it was 3 p.m. we checked the kiln at 4 and it
was already 1900f. cone 11 started over at 7 pm.
cone 12 dropped and was full over about twenty minutes later.
we shut it off...down fired about hour and half with one
burner on 1/4, put the damper in almost all the way.
opened the kiln at 7 a.m. pots were perfect.
some of the best chinese glaze/iron saga pots i have seen.
david was speechless. his porcelain bowls and cups
were all covered with gold crystals, and deep red and
black partridge feather teabowls that
are going to china and japan as gifts were just
perfect...even had some slight blue haze on some of
them. it was very important for me/nils/kurt and bob anderson
to have a neutral observer/potter fire these kilns. we often
think that people think we are for some reason.
well, we fire fast, with very efficient kilns...tight stacks
and small flue. we get balance and do not heat mother
earth. we save fuel. as i have said about two thousand
times on clayart...most people are having kiln problems
because their flue is far too large and fire with too
much fuel. there are three clayart friends from around
the country that have fixed their kilns to our
in half the time with half the fuel...and much beter pots.

david pulled out six slips of paper from the rafters of
the kiln shed...all notes from bob anderson. his charts
of last summer's firings in that kiln...4 hours 20 minutes
was the average. all cone 12/13. not a warped pot in
the bunch.

kurt has the same kiln, maybe a bit bigger and he fires
his kiln almost with an alarm clock. (in fact he does..)
i think he has been doing firings in about six hours, but
he nurses those big thousand dollar pots along with a
lot of love. medium reduction. cone 10...he does not
tolerate runny glazes...

so, david will write his own take on this experience.
it was a joy having such a nice, kind....really fine
college professor with us. he is part of a breed
of hard working, non arrogant, dedicated teachers...

there is a great deal of information coming from industry.
they do not waste fuel, esp when the gas bill is
four million dollars a year. i have learned a great deal
from feriz delkic. nils has taken a great deal of
information that is science directed and turned it
into kiln design. donovan palmquist is doing the same
thing, then add it all up...and we have some new ideas
that are more than worth exploring.
but, then, if things are always done the same old way,
never move forward....never take chances...well then
you have the same old thing.
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