Our summer shows and fairs are less than six months away, and there is still plenty to be done to finish our kiln . . . hence the mid-winter kiln building efforts! Laying bricks in below freezing temperatures in the Vermont winter was out of the question, so we've been working away on other tasks, taking any step we can towards our goal of a July Fourth weekend firing! Here's what we've been up to . . . and just a little reminder, we'll be part of the Vermont Studio Tour on Memorial Day Weekend 2011, so you're more than welcome to come check out our progess in person. Winter on the farm has been very snowy and pretty cold, but absolutely beautiful! Below is a photo of our kiln shed at night. Along with our master electrician and friend, Dick Ratico, we wired our building for these super efficient LED bulbs. We can proudly say that lighting the entire 1200 square foot building uses the wattage equivalent of our bathroom vanity! (Which reminds me we should change the bulbs on it, too!) Special thanks to Efficiency Vermont for the amazing rebate offer that allowed us to be ever-greener potters.
Every kiln needs a bunch of opening and holes for various things- in the case of wood kiln, they're for checking out the cones to gauge heat, pulling out draw rings to gauge ash melt, even stoking wood into the sides. Most kilns use bricks; we decided to cast round ports and plugs in part because we like the visual, but we also like the idea of grabbing a cool-ish handle rather than a hot brick. Here are a few of them drying next to the woodstove in our basement!
In January and February, Nathan worked with Bob Barrett, very talented local welder, to design a steel frame that will hold the swinging doors for the two primary stoking arches as well as brace the front of the kiln as it expands during the firing. This frame was made almost entirely from material we salvaged from Becca's NH kiln. The doors are a real thing of beauty . . . the double hinge will allow us to swivel the hot face away when we're stoking a 2300 degree kiln.
Last but not least, as the weather warmed slightly last week, we managed to uncover our bundles of scrap slab wood and cut them to four-foot lengths for the upcoming firing(s)! It was gorgeous weather, and we estimate we have about 10-11 cords of hemlock, pine, and assorted hardwoods on hand to last us for (hopefully) a couple firings.