The Reveal

Kiln opening day is always exciting. Due to the late night before, we decided against a group breakfast, and rolled up around 10am.

The’re was still a good heat around the kiln, so we removed a few bricks from the chimney and opened the ports. And of course, we took out the remaining rings, and cones. Too much curiosity to wait!

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Cone 8 down

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And some soda action on the port bricks..

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A quick coffee and discussion on yesterday’s challenges, we headed back to the kiln.

Top shelf revealed..

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2nd shelf

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Bottom shelf

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We took each piece out and discussed what had happened, from the flame, to the soda , the heat, and glaze and slip response.

The two pieces I had applied glaze and slip too, are below. They had been made and bisque fired previously by my father.

Before firing:

A.

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B.

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After firing..

A.

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B.

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Other side of B.

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I actually love this side as it shows the remnant of shells it was placed on in the kiln.

So, how did I find the course?

I loved it. I had never wood fired before, and not only learnt a tremendous amount, but loved doing it. Seeing how sensitive the reaction was as I was stoking .. the difference between a sliver and a small block of wood was amazing.

Trying to keep the fire in oxidation, but with enough wood to keep raising the temperature was a fine art in itself.

And then there is the whole world of chemistry involved in the glazes, slips, clays and heat to explore.

Soda firing day

Today (or rather the following day depending on when you read this), was soda firing day.

Our aim was to get the kiln lit by 11am , up to temp and adding soda around 6:30pm. What is planned and what eventuates can be two entirely different things.

We started the day having a quick overview of kiln temperatures, discussing reduction and oxidation processes, the use of cones for reading the temperature, and the ins and outs of adding soda or salt.

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Then loaded the kiln.

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So, finally had the kiln going at 11:50am. With someone stationed near the pryometer to graph heat and time.

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This is where our timetable became somewhat unhinged. Struggling to increase temp, we fiddled with gas flow and air flow. Then borrowed the gas cylinder from the side of the building to add a second gas flow. Which gave a much better flame.

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But was leaking gas at the cylinder connection. Finally working out there was a missing O ring, and getting that sorted, temp began rising again.

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At 5pm we should be at 1100°. We are at ………. The flame doesn’t seem to be travelling through the kiln. We begin adding slivers of kindling. Too big a piece leads to smoke and a reduction fire. (Bad). Too little the temp drops. (Bad). Still adding wood. It is now 8pm.

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Happy dance. We make 1200°.

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Soda time begins at…..

We get a good rhythm going. Adding crystallized laundry soda with some water to a long spoon. Person A opens port, person B inserts soda, person A shuts port. Person C stokes fire. Repeat for an hour and a half.

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We try to look at the cones, can’t see anything. We do retrieve 2 rings. Looking shiny . Something has happened.

It is 11pm.  Time to shut down kiln, and crash for the night.

The Reveal

Kiln opening day is always exciting. Due to the late night before, we decided against a group breakfast, and rolled up around 10am.

The’re was still a good heat around the kiln, so we removed a few bricks from the chimney and opened the ports. And of course, we took out the remaining rings, and cones. Too much curiosity to wait!

Cone 8 down

And some soda action on the port bricks..

A quick coffee and discussion on yesterday’s challenges, we headed back to the kiln.

Top shelf revealed..

2nd shelf

Bottom shelf

We took each piece out and discussed what had happened, from the flame, to the soda , the heat, and glaze and slip response.

The two pieces I had applied glaze and slip too, are below. They had been made and bisque fired previously by my father.

Before firing:

A.

B.

After firing..

A.

B.

Other side of B.

I actually love this side as it shows the remnant of shells it was placed on in the kiln.

So, how did I find the course?

I loved it. I had never wood fired before, and not only learnt a tremendous amount, but loved doing it. Seeing how sensitive the reaction was as I was stoking .. the difference between a sliver and a small block of wood was amazing.

Trying to keep the fire in oxidation, but with enough wood to keep raising the temperature was a fine art in itself.

And then there is the whole world of chemistry involved in the glazes, slips, clays and heat to explore.

Fun. Absolutely!

Kiln build day

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Look at the kiln we built today. A double cross draught , top loading beast.

Design came from Peter Lange, with build input and oversight of Susan St Lawrence and Margaret Sumich.

First we leveled an area
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Then placed the foundation bricks based on the size of the shelves.

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Built up, popping in a piece of old shelf to direct flame up around into the chamber
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Kept on building. Added ports for viewing and adding soda during firing.
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Finished for the day..
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Loading tomorrow.

Kiln building challenge.

‘If I can build a kiln, anyone can’ – Susan St Lawrence

So this is my weekend challenge, my annual summer school experience.

I had enrolled into a course on an entirely different topic, but it was cancelled. So I transferred to the course my father is attending. Kiln building and soda firing.

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I”ll keep you posted.  Today is build day. And glaze mixing.

Sweetpeas

Growing sweetpeas.
My mother in law always had a fantastic display of sweetpeas. And in recent years, my own parents have started growing them.

The scented varieties of course.

So, last year when I was visiting, I collected a handful of seeds, kept them in an old envelope and put them in that kitchen draw, which holds all the odd things. Like batteries, straws, twistie-ties…

This past spring I planted them. My strike rate with seeds is not that hot. I seem to only have either all seeds grow…every single one…or none.

This time, it was on the lower scale. Then when the lawn mower man topped them all with his weed eater (grrrr), I was left with two plants. But they have survived.

I picked a few today. There is something about fresh cut flowers in the bathroom, that I really like.

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Pohutukawa Christmas. Day 1

Christmas here in New Zealand, is summer. Christmas brings barbeques, beach visits, camping, and hot and humid nights. And flowering Pohutukawa trees.

So, instead of snowflake decorations, I have decided to go local. The crimson and green of the NZ Christmas tree.
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This was taken a month ago, and the tree was not yet flowering. ….Must go and get some more pics…

Anyhoo..

Day 1 brings the first design. Maybe a brooch, maybe a tree ornament, or…

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In progress.

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Finished .

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A close up.

What do you think I could do with it? 

Fabric flower discovery

My mum needs a new brooch. Well, I think so anyway.

So I have been busy pinning ideas, and decided to have a play yesterday afternoon.

I found some organza in my draw.

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And dug out my (sad looking) button collection. If you have vintage buttons to throw out… send them my way!!

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Then cut some various circles from the organza, melted the edges over a candle, and added a button.

For the third, I added an organza rosette. This took several attempts to get the folding ok. Even after watching a few You Tube clips and reading numerous directions. The folding, twisting bit still needs work on.

But I love the results

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Finally – a Tarte Tatin.

I first tried this yummy dessert at a friends place a few years back.  I had never had it before and loved it.  All the perfect things in a dessert.. warm, cakey, creamy, fruity, and great with ice-cream!

It was always on my to-do list.  But always appeared to be a bit of a mission.

Then came yesterday. My parents came for the weekend, with a bucket of pears from their garden. And it was my mum’s birthday, so a bit of a celebration weekend. Why not tackle the tarte tatin?!

So I dug out my friend’s recipe  Apple Tarte Tatin  from her blog Brenda Loves to Cook

the tart that inspired me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used both the pastry and the tart recipe.

Here is my pastry in the making:

puff pastry

And here is the final result!  It tasted sooooo good!

pear tarte tatin

Project for the New Year

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It’s been almost two months since I learnt my first two crochet stitches. So, I decided to embark on my first project for 2013! It does seem odd making a blanket in this summer heat.. But then I may have time to finish by winter.

Crochet granny square blankets remind me of holidays on the Thames Coast, NZ. Right across from the sea lived my grandfather. All the spare beds were covered with these blankets, and many more were folded up on chairs. I don’t recall actually liking them. They were just part of being there. Along with freshly ground coffee in small mugs, homemade chocolate chip cookies made from the recipe on the Cadbury packet of choccy chips. Freshly dredged mussels soaking in bowls of malt vinegar. Mosquitoes. And endless hours on the beach.

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So, back to those squares. I’ve gone for five colours and am making them in two sizes. And in case you were asking.. as yet I have no idea how I will attach them together. That will be another lesson for another day!

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