Friday, October 23, 2009

Maiden Firing of the Salt Kiln

I'm happy to report that I have fired the kiln!! And lived to tell about it - that's always a plus!!

I will post some pictures of the firing and the finished pots......

This is a photo of me introducing the salt into the kiln....
Still hot pots with the door just unbricked.......

Back half of the stack.........

I would say it was a successful firing, especially when you consider I've never fired anything but an electric kiln myself. I have participated in a few woodfirings and salt firings, but this is the first time I've had my own atmospheric kiln to fire!! I feel as if I've learned a LOT!!

Of course I could've never undertaken such a project on my own!! I'm very thankful to those who helped me, either physically or with material or with advice, either in person or via e-mail! In addition, the internet and several good books on salt firing were imm
easurably helpful in firing the kiln!

We did have a little trouble with one back corner not heating up as quickly as the rest of the kiln. I think that trying to even out the temperature caused a little more reduction in my work than I would've liked. But we achieved what I thought was good salt distribution throughout the kiln. We did use more salt than we needed to, again because of the cool spot in the kiln. I used canning/pickling salt which was introduced on an angle iron through 2 salt ports in the back of the kiln above the burners.

We started salting when cone 9 was down and 10 was bending in the front. Cone 8 was stoutly refusing to move in the back of the kiln, but we didn't want to wait too long since the front wa
s ready. We would push the damper in and turn the burners down, introduce about 1-2 pounds of salt per port and let it waft about the kiln for 5 minutes, then we would open the damper up and turn the burners on full for about 10 minutes. "Lather, rinse, repeat." Every 3 or 4 saltings, I would pull a draw ring to see whether we were getting salt coverage. It seemed to happen pretty quickly considering this was the first firing. My husband sprayed the inside of the kiln and door bricks with a coating of ITC. I think this made it more resistant to the salt, and consequently there was more available to juice up the pots!

Due to the problems with uneven temp. we ended up introducing about 40 lb. for this firing, even though according to the draw rings, we probably could have gotten by with less than half that amount. (My kiln is about 37 cubic feet total.) Scott thinks if we move the target bricks toward the back of the kiln a few inches, we'll get more even heat distribution. We never did get the back part up to temp, but after using that much salt and firing it for about 20 hours, I decided it was time to cut our losses, shut it down and analyze our results.

Something neat happened in the midst of the firing. I stepped back to look at the chim
ney and right at that moment, a shooting star streaked across the sky and looked almost as if it went right down the kiln's chimney!! I thought that seemed like a pretty good omen!!

And apparently it was because I'm pretty pleased with
the results over all and ready to fire it again. Now I just have to get some more pots made!!

Is that glow from the sun setting or the kiln firing???