What a day, What a fire, What a result!
Only three of us went out to Rangiora which was a shame; we were welcomed by a good number of their folk. Stacking of the kiln began when Les Freeman, Chief Salt Kiln Operator, arrived with some fire wood. There is a special technique when stacking this type of kiln because the gas flow is to be made turbulent. Different shapes of pot are placed near each other to accentuate the variation in the gas flow. The were too many pots for everyone to get all their pots fired, so we made sure that everyone got at least one fired. Lots of pots with no names, so hope you didn't miss out.
The firing is started using wood; this is to heat the fire box to the point where the diesel / air mixture will ignite. The kiln was set alight at 10.00am on a beautiful Nor'wester day; lots of smoke to begin with as the heat-up continued. The roar of the diesel/air mixture is a bit like a Boeing 747, but the sound of the roar varies during the firing and all fire adjustments are made based on the changes to the roar.
The kiln is a double skin, dry stack type and as it heated the flue obtained a slight lean; nothing to be concerned about apparently. The nature of the build enables keen viewers, like us, the opportunity to see the kiln heat through dull red, bright red, brighter red with a touch of yellow and then with a touch of white; absolutely fantastic. Then, we got to throw the salt in. A cup of salt is wrapped in newspaper, the is dampened with a quick dunk in a bucket of water, then the projectile is thrown into the fire box with the aim of reaching a far back as possible. There were a few "drop-shorts" but generally all the salt got into the kiln and did its thing. The clouds of white/grey smoke are the result of the salt under combustion. The firing stopped and the kiln was closed up around 4.30pm. The Nor'wester was given as the reason for the shortest firing they've ever had.
The photographs below show some of the excitement of the firing and also some of the results. The price for getting a pot fired is $10.00 (that's the RPC standard fee), so Ill be around collecting over the next week - ten days.
There is talk of another salt glaze firing in six to eight weeks time; I highly recommend it. Commit to the whole day and get involved; at the risk of repeating myself, its absolutely fantastic.
Regards - Graham, Jon & Robin
The Secretary and Members - Mt Pleasant Pottery Group.