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Our Mastering Woodfiring Effects Workshop

We got off to a great start with most students sorting out their slipping and glazing before arriving on the Saturday morning. That meant we had more time to think about how to load the kiln, putting aside the appropriate pieces for the firebox, throat steps, bag walls and underneath the first shelf – all areas that needed the right size and shape of pot.

The students rotated through the various jobs associated with loading the kiln; pot picking, prop selection (and cleaning), wadding and stacking. Some pieces were shell wadded on their sides or in stacks, different wadding was used in different areas, ramp stacking each shelf and awareness of accurate shelf placing all makes for a better load.

The firing kicked off at 6am on the day that the clocks go forward, so a beautiful dawn greeted the first stoking team. The wood was regularly hauled up from the woodsheds, a mix of gum, macrocarpa and pine pallet wood. 

The kiln follows a log, no pyrometer is used, instead observations about what’s happening in the kiln are compared to the log to see if the kiln is on schedule. We reached the soda temperature (about a cone 7) in good time and set about squirting the soda mix into the kiln in various ports. It takes about an hour to get the soda in and then the last ramp/soak to get the top cone 10 down – all up the firing was 12 hours 40 mins.