This was an article I wrote after the second firing of our big kiln. Enjoy!
Firing at the Kiln Park
I know it was not what some might have wanted, pushed others to the edge and beyond, the results varied especially to those whose eyes held a certain expectation, but after a few months of reflection the second firing of the kiln that I have come to know as the Tempest kiln (also referred to as the Cat-Coffin kiln) was, all things considered, a truly great firing. Probably the best one I have had the pleasure of participating in.
This kiln that started out in an exercise in grant writing turned into as its name implies, an often-violent storm for me. As hard as we pushed to get the kiln built, to fill it, get help to fire it and have it fire well, the kiln seemed to push back. This firing was different, for all its complexity (due to the fact that I tried to cram a few to many ideas into the kiln, not unlike a kid seeing how many cookies one could fit into his mouth) the kiln fired relatively well. It dealt us a few curves, like producing a long flame that heated the back first, not giving us (especially for those of the sleep deprived variety) clear signals for when to stoke and generally encouraging us to flex our physical, intuitive and intellectual muscles a bit, but for me, the promise that I saw before I now see again and now I know that this is a good kiln.
I have a nasty habit of projecting and start to think about the next firing whilst the current firing is right before me and even though I did this a bit during the firing I found that it did not happen as much. Not because the lack of opportunity, but more because I was too engaged with the kiln and the people. After a few months and a bit of projecting later I have a better idea of how and what I would like to see in the next firing. A slight change in stacking, a bit more air in the coal bed perhaps, seal up the last chamber a bit more, I would even like to see more side stoking especially the last port before it goes into the second chamber. The thing that I feel no need to change in the firing (even though I know it will) is the people. The firing dynamic this time around was by far the best one that I have been involved in. The diverse knowledge and experience, the exchange of ideas, and the intensity all were reflected in the work that emerged from the kiln.
The pots and the kiln are important but are just a record of a process. The people that make and fire the work are the most important part of that process and are, in the end the reason we do it. We could not fire this entire kiln on our own, nor would we want to. I would like to thank all of you for being here when we needed you most.
A few months afterwards my mind still wanders back to the firing, especially now that we have cleaned up and set free (via a Christmas sale) some of the work that came out of the kiln. I have noticed that I still get quite excited about that firing and I guess what I needed to see in this firing I saw, not because I wanted to see it but because it was actually there. The only thing left now is possibilities.
Till next time,
Christian D Barr