Friday, August 21, 2009

The Arch is done!

The kiln is really starting to take shape and look like a kiln!! I must apologize to my loyal reader for my former pessimism!! We're making great progress, I should be in the studio very soon!

I'm actually starting to feel a little nervous about producing again. The pressure's on.........will I be able to produce? More importantly, will I be able to sell?? Or is it all just yet another expensive hobby?

Here's what we did on the kiln yesterday.........

In this photo, we've are laying the last course of the arch bricks. Scott built the form out of wood using the kiln's measurements and some extremely complicated algebraic formula. (Of course any algebraic formula seems extremely complicated to me!) According to Jack Troy (kiln guru, he wrote The Kiln Book) a kiln should be as close to a perfect cube as possible. Of course it's a little off because of the shape of the arch, but we're about as close as we could get. In order to make the arch the correct curvature, we had to lay a row of straight bricks in periodically. They're the darker colored bricks. So the pattern was, 3 rows of arch bricks on either side, then a row of straights, then 4 rows of arch bricks and a row of straights, then 4 rows of arch bricks in the middle.

I found the whole arch process somewhat fascinating. The arch bricks have an ever so slight taper to them and it amazes me that they're all made consistently enough to fit together so perfectly. After all the
measurements and leveling and re-measuring, and pulling out bricks, and pounding on the wall we did, I thought the arch would take a long time to complete (and wondered if we'd be able to make it work.) I guess all the anal activities I just mentioned (and have complained about) the whole time actually paid off in the end, didn't they?!

The kiln is called a "Sprung Arch" kiln; it gets its name from the process in which the arch is built. The bricks are laid starting on either side and working towards the middle. In the above picture you can see that the final row of bricks in the middle looks as though it's not going to fit. That's how it's supposed to work. You tap the bricks down gently into place and the shape and weight of the bricks actually causes the arch to "spring" up off of the form ever so slightly. Thus, the bricks are now holding themselves in place because you can't use any type of mortar on the arch, it could filter down onto the pots when the kiln's firing and ruin them.

How did anyone figure this out? Like I said, fascinating! Ok, it ain't the pyramids or stone henge, but it's the First Wonder of My World right now. And totally makes me wonder how in the hell some of those real wonders were ever conceived, let alone actually built!!

Here's a shot of the arch after we took the form out. I think it's a work of art!!

In this picture, if you look at the back wall, you can see where we cut and ground bricks to fit under the arch. There's just a small sliver of space left that I'll probably fill with soft brick and mortar. Then a layer of soft brick on the outside for insulation.

Next step is to layout the door configuration and the spray the interior, the arch and the inside of the door with ITC, a chemical solution that will protect the bricks and give them a longer kiln life. Also need to finish the chimney and get the burners hooked up.

Hopefully I'll fire it up in just a few more weeks!!

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