Saturday, August 29, 2009

Angama'09 GBP, unloaded.

Oh !!! the result has been overwhelming.

Ofcourse there are several pots stuck to each other and lots of unburnt ash creating rough surface on the pots. We all have to spend time with each piece, cleaning them. we soak them in water and then use carborendum stone to take out the roughness.

monotonous .....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP, door opening

we opened the kiln door today. just could not resist ourselves from taking out a few pots.

beyond this no words ........................

only excitement!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP, cooling day

A day passed without much happening, except for the knowledge that the damper pushed in, did not actually get closed......

and so the kiln cooled faster than expected.

We peeked into the kiln through stoke holes...

and were very thrilled.

shall pull down the door tomorrow and unload day after!!!!. oh just cant wait.

in the mean time another wood kiln which we call 'Uppama' was being fired by Madhvi, and I helped her from 5pm to 9pm today.
also I shall be doing a gas bisque for the pottery tomorrow. Its already preheating over the night and I shall get there by 7am to fire it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP, fourth night firing

Actually we did not reach the fourth night firing.
We fired only three hours into the night shift on the fourth night of the firing.

After finishing the previous night shift I gave myself a good breakfast and a good sleep. After I woke up, I was wondering what time it might be, that I got a call from the day crew members.. (it was around 3pm) the first row of shelves were tilting to one side....

It was consensus that we shall salt as soon and finish firing by evening.

The next thing was, I was ready and at the pottery.
Oh! the glow and the melt of the ash on the pots was beautiful, it was really amazing to see.

The day and the night crew.. all of us were there.
We prepared salt packets.. and sprayed and salted the last chamber.

We kept feeding in the wood untill 9pm, 75 hours into the firing!

After a little time after we last stoked(put wood in the chamber) we plugged all holes and closed the damper to let the pots cool slowly in the hot chamber.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP, third night firing

48 hours into the firing. It is very hot.

I have slipped into a nice rythm of sleep in the day and work at night. I am sure a lot of people in the world do night shifts very comfortably, I was only not sure about myself untill..

As I was on my way to the pottery, I stopped to pick some cool things to drink and cookies etc. A friends, Srinath's chocolate shop opening .. CHOCO-LA.

I went past, and then turned around to get some delicious chocolate..

Once I reached the pottery the first thing I did was shared the yummmmmmmmmm chocolate with all before it melted !!

Well, the pyro was showing temperature fall and rise.. 1180 to 1250 deg centigrade.

There was a really nice build up of amber in ashpit two, in the ashpit three there was little amber. One could see the pots below a light spray of amber, that seemed to be almost dying(it looked that it did not have enough heat to keep burning.

Taking over firing kiln isnt easy. It s difficult to become one with it, if there are other issues to be encountered.

anyway, after an hour or so, I made several phone calls to Ray, and got the grip of the situation.

Essentially the firboxs have to go through a cycle of getting fed with a lot of wood, and then its given air and time to burn down. This burning down of the amber results in the beautiful run of ashs on the pots, that (pictures of pots will follow post 29th, the day we unload the kiln) one of the desired result from this kiln.

Todays night crew had three of us, Neha, Iber and me. Adil has not been well, so he decided to come the next morning. Ashwini who was on day shift joined us around 11pm to keep the energy going.

The attempt was to get the cone 10 at firebox two to go down. It would do so hopefully with rise in temperature... ah! and that wasnt easy.
kept trying out different combinations of wood, and the amount of wood to make the temperature go up. The pyro hit 1270 several times, 1280 say five times.. and 1297 just once, untill morning.. bugger did not go upto 1300. Leave aside temp on the pyro, inspite of over 30 degrees more temp, the cone kept up.... stubborn.

firing a kiln, at such high temperatures... when the wood is fed into the firebox, the wood takes heat from the chamber to catch fire... resultant is that we see a fall in the temperature on the pyro. After a while when the wood sitting there is burning, its starts emitting heat... resultant is, we see rise in temp on the pyro. if the wood is fed at the perfect time(right moment) the fall is less and rise is more, resultant rise in temperature!!
Thats what we are aiming at most of the time when firing kilns.
At other times, rather in Anagama, we maintain the reached temperature for several days to get the large amount of ash deposit on the pots.

just waiting to get back to the fire today evening:).

Oh! and what I forgot to tell you is that there was a lot of thunder and lightening.. just when it got dark and the lights went off. It was beautiful, with the place lit up with the fire in the kiln.
Only worry was how would i decide when to stoke without the help of the pyro??

ya, ya in olden days there was no pyro and the potters in China, Korea and Japan could tell, the temperature, by the speed at which a length of wood burned!

When I was in Japan. One of the studio artist, Max Hogetts, at Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park(SCCP) was doing an anagama firing. Of course with help from the SCCP staff and fellow artists. During one of the shifts, when we had all gathered around the kiln with dinner, a senior Shigaraki potter, Sawa San, took over the firing, as we all had food.
We all sat around watching the pyro and the fire. To my amazement he sat facing his back to the pyro. And he stoked the kiln at the right moment(explaination about the right moment is above).
What we saw was a constant rise in temperature!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP, second night firing

After two phases of refreshing sleep, through the day, I reached the pottery in time to take over for my shift. It was amazing how the day crew managed to reach cone 9 down. At the time the pyrometer was showing 1210 deg centigrade.

It sure wasnt easy, but a great work.

Slowly the story of the day was revealed.
The temperature in the morning when I finished the first night shift, on the pyro said 850, but the pots in the kiln did not look that hot. Questions arose as we,the night crew left. but it took couple of hours to figure out that the PYRO!! wasnt showing the correct temperature(brand new pyro!!!), with an exchange with an old pyro showed the right temp of 450?!!(instead of 850), which looked correct.
Yes I can, things like this happen.

Inspite of that.... meaning being behind schedule!

The day crew, of course with experience of Ray hauled to post 1100 degree centigrade by afternoon. Thats incredible!

With the usual fun of keeping stuck at a temperature for a while and then figuring a way of gaining some temp.. at 6pm, they were very close to the desired state of the kiln.

The night crew took over. Iber, Neha, Krishnamurthy(potter from Mandala) and me. Adil was there with his ongoing fever, and Madhvi for a few hours.

It was great, just had to keep stoking and the kiln behaved beautifully.
The temperature rose to about 1250, and the higher cones went down.

Then we started putting in wood from the side stock hole into the firebox two, here the pots are stacked on the floor, and the wood burns on top of the pots. Hence, we are very carful of not doing a vigourous stoke. Slowly landing the wood on top of the pots, and essentially building up a pile of amber(burning wood) on them. Also, our job was to keep the temperature between 1200-1250, which we managed, Thanks to the kiln Gods!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP, firing started

Finally, started the most awaited Anagama firing at 5.30pm on 21st evening.
We started with a small fire at the base of the chimney. This is done to create a draft(a pull for the heat being created in the front of the kiln, to pass through the chamber and rise up the chimney). It us this draft with which we manipulate the rise in temperature in the kiln, with the amount of wood and the quantum of air that is being sucked by the chimney.
Having the chimney heated up, Iber did a pooja and lit the fire in the front of the kiln.
And so we were on.
Adil, Neha, Iber and me were on the shift.
After feeding in wood at the floor, when the temperature on pirometer was 250, we started putting wood from the centre stoke hole.
Adil got fever and left at 3am.
This night was a night with three stokes a half hour of something like 6 to 10 pieces of wood.
Kept munching whenever we felt sleepy!!!
And the morning crew arrived and took over!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anagama'09 GBP

Life has been a lot of fun since Anagama work has started.

In march when I got back from Shigaraki, Japan; I was totally taken over by the intense work that happens in the medium of Ceramic. Of course it is quite varied.

On one hand I am attracted towards the crystalline glazes, on porcelain clay body fired in an electric kiln.
To fire an electric kiln one has to set the program and then one can go off to sleep. As the temperature in the chamber increases and decreases according to the data fed in. The chamber is lined with kiln fiber and electric coils that generates the heat in the chamber.

On the other hand I love the intense work at wood-firing. And the lusturous pots that come out with beautiful ash deposits, whether it is a 14cft wood-firing kiln or 200cft!! and especially in an Anagama (cave kiln as named in Japan) in which the wood burns right next to the pots and some times on top of them as well, gives nice effects(kiln tears, glossy ash deposit that may vary in colour because of the application of materials underneath, variation with different layers of crust and actually too many to list down here with the limited vocabulary).
Firing a wood kiln means that, to increase temperature we use wood as the fuel. And untill date we dont have a mechanical device to feed wood into the fire box for firing! hahaha. So, one has to be there through out the time of the firing to feed wood. If the firing is more than 16 hours.. as is in the case of a kiln 200cft size(anagama at GBP) we make 12 hour shifts to fire(feed wood into the firebox, or what we may call fire the kiln).

Anyway.... I had an itch to fire an Anagama since I was back from Japan, and the time has come and I am extremely excited about it!!!
We start firing tomorrow evening...........

My friend and collegue has uploaded pics and blog that has most of the happening untill today @

Now she is going to be on day shift and I will be on night shift... so you may visit both the blogs to see the pics of night and day firing!!!!! Anagama'09