It has been a dry year so far and our district has a fire ban in place but with our exhibition at the Front Room Gallery looming ever closer we couldn’t hold off any longer. Our kiln is excluded from the fire ban restrictions as it’s an inclosed fire and poses no risk of sending embers into the bush, but the smoke is a different story. At about 800 degrees we do tend to the slightly smokey end of the spectrum, partly to start the reduction of the clay bodies and partly the passive is open and the chimney cold. So with spurts of smoke rising in the still air a helpful person further down the valley alerted the fire service and hence our visit. The fire crew were keen to see the kiln and were not concerned by what we were up to.
Subsequent to their visit (and not wanting another) we switched to a different rhythm that meant a smoke spotter and stoker working closely to keep the chimney to a light grey smoke that wouldn’t be seen. This worked – mostly. But did exasperate a feature of this kiln design, which is the stokers have to evenly distribute the wood across the grate. Right handers have a tendency to favour the left and centre of the firebox, so when we got to unloading we noticed a patch of lighter coloured work near the wicket – a classic sign of uneven stoking.
The rest of the firing was excellent and provided some lovely work just in time for our exhibition.