The Last Beta Firing? Success at iteration 7

Janine has just completed the 7th firing and design iteration of the little wood fired kiln. It worked well and there are now no more obvious and glaring changes that need to be made to the design. Of course there are a lot of little issues that will need to be tweaked over the coming months. But I can’t see anything that will require a major rebuild. I think that this design as it stands now is a good one. – Until I think of something better!

The verandah of the pottery now has a collection of these little prototypes all parked there out of the weather. They all work well enough at lower temps, so I will use them for our raku firing weekend workshops. The image shows a very full wheel barrow of wood, enough for two or more firings to stoneware.
The design that I have ended up with is now ready for a limited production run.
This last firing of Janine’s was more or less perfect. Except that we managed to crack a kiln shelf. Janine had a lot of flat ware, so I retrieved a kiln shelf from the rack that hadn’t been fired for over 20 years. I think that the shock of a fast firing and possibly moisture absorbtion that couldn’t escape fast enough was the problem, as this hasn’t happened before. I would usually like to season a new kiln shelf more gentle. Perhaps by rubbing in salt and pepper with a little olive oil might work next time?:) By lunch time we’re famished. Because I managed to catch up with the fresh fish man, we have ultra-fresh sashimi grade tuna. So its sashimi for lunch.
I also make fresh pippies in white wine, chilli and saffron sauce for dinner. What more could you want to celebrate a successful firing day. Followed by a fresh salad from the garden. We have a local grower of saffron now, so we support them.
I have been making a new batch of spy holes for my kiln factory. I throw them on the wheel, very slowly, out of a very coarse mix of crushed high alumina grog and a small amount of kaolin to bind it. The mix is so aggressive that my hands are starting to hurt after just one pot-board full. This mix really takes your skin off. But that’s OK. 20 or so will last me for another year. If I wanted to make any more I’d have to wear gloves. I’ve heard some potters claim that they throw till their fingers bleed, but I’m not that stupid. I know when to stop.
I fire the spy holes in the little wood kiln. This little wonder fires cone 8 on the bottom shelf, cone 9 in the middle and cone 10 at the top. A perfectly useable working stoneware temperature range. Certainly OK for a 3 to 3 1/2 hour firing schedule. My bowls turn out well too. Some nice, soft, pastel glazes.
I’m really pleased that everything has come to a clear resolution at this time. As for the next couple of months. I’m fully booked on other projects and I wont have any time to play with this little kiln for a while. In the evening we de-seed chillies for drying in the kitchen window, along with beans and corn, destined for drying and grinding for polenta. I also finish drying some tomatoes in the oven. Once dried in this way they have the potential to keep almost indefinitely, but they never do. They are so yummy that I eat them like lollies. They never last the year. It’s great to add a handful into winter stocks. They add that certain piquant, sharp sweetness to sauces or a ragu.
This is just another day in the mixed household of self-reliance.
Best wishes from Mr. Beta and Ms Better