Firing 3 kilns in one day

This week, we saw our first hatching of baby ducklings appear in the orchard from our resident wood ducks. We seem to have between 5 to 7 permanent residents and up to 25 itinerant blow-in opportunists. I’m always surprised how independent and resilient these tiny little fluffy things are straight out of the egg. They run frantically on their minuscule legs to keep up with their mum as she strolls along nibbling at the lush spring grass. They feed on the grass too, each time she stops to let them sit down and rest their little legs.

We seem to have 13 in this hatching.

I’ve been making pots out of our own blended iron-stained stoneware body on the kick wheel for the wood kiln firing that is coming up and also making porcelain on the shimpo. I’m very happy with my new experimental large format wheel head turnings tray. I was able to turn two dozen porcelain dinner plates straight through without having to empty the turnings from the tray – and it’s still not full! In the past, I used to have to stop after every pot and take the tray apart to empty it ,so that I could go on with the next pot. The Shimpo tray is so tight that I can’t get my fingers in to lift the turnings out without taking the tray to bits and then re-assembling it. Such a pain. But that is all in the past now. These new home made custom trays are so spacious!

While I’m on the subject of potters wheel trays. I threw 40 mugs the other day and because I don’t use much, if hardly any, water when I throw. The wheel tray was still mostly dry at the end of the one hour throwing session.

You can see a damp ring, where the slight excess of throwing water has dampened the tray in a ring around the wheel head. No more than is really necessary.

I learnt to throw like this during my apprenticeship with the Japanese potter, Shiga shigeo. All Japanese potters wheels are set down into the floor, of a raised bench-like structure, and it is customary to sit cross legged, on this raised floor, in front of the wheel at floor level

I had to throw all my pots off-the-hump, on a Shimpo wheel with no tray. As I couldn’t sit cross legged, on the floor, in front of the wheel, for very long without getting cramps.  I had to dangle my legs down beside the wheel, into the enclosure, to be comfortable. I didn’t want my legs to get wet, so I learnt to use virtually no excess water. I’ve become a bit lazy in my old age and let a few drop slip off the wheel head these days. As it doesn’t matter, because I have a large tray to catch everything. Old habits die hard.

The mugs are all handled and on the shelves drying out now and waiting for the next firing.

Yesterday we packed 2 bisques and a stoneware glaze, then pre-heated them for an hour. So today we are firing 3 kilns at once.