Making/Firing
 
Making tends to happen in concentrated bursts when a firing or exhibition is on the horizon!
I have found that raw glazing gives a rhythm to the making that I enjoy. It enables me to see through the process of creating a batch of pots from raw clay to kiln-ready without interruption, and gives more variety to the workshop routine. I don't think I have had more seconds than I had before and some things are easier - overglaze decoration, for example, and touching up whilst the glaze is still wet.
 
There are two live-flame kilns at Hookshouse, and a small electric kiln in the workshop.
 
The 60 cu ft oil kiln was built in 1980 to the old COSIRA design with Swirlamiser burners, and after about 130 firings is still going strong.
 
 
The 18 cu ft wood kiln (above) was built in 1999 to the Paul Stubbs/Micki Schloessingk design, first launched at the International Potters' Camp at Aberystwyth. It has a very large firebox, with a layer of hemitubes which make it possible to control the level of ash and embers by opening a mousehole at floor level. It also has a Paul Stubbs engineered door, which saves the potter from heat exhaustion whilst stoking in the 1200's! It is a very potter friendly kiln, with bags of power, easy to fire on one's own. It even reduces well!
 
My firing schedule in the wood kiln involves a very thorough preheat of the raw pots, a slow progression (50 degrees per hour) through the 500ís to help the large pots cope with silica inversion, and a slow rise from 950 to 1000 rather than a soak as such to ensure that burning out is achieved. Reduction starts in the mid 800ís and continues, apart from the burning out stage, until Cone 8 is down in all parts. I aim to have Cone 10 down everywhere before I stop the final oxidised soak, which usually means Cone 11 is down in the hottest area.