The Quad War Salt Kiln Year 2
.                                  Actually Year 3.. year 2 got postponed for me due to family issues. But year two of work on the kiln. I realized I'm an idiot on 2 counts. First I forgot my camera. Second - don't ever try stoking a kiln while tired... you will burn yourself.

So here's how things went:

Saturday early morning I decided to start the kiln despite the fact I knew I wasn't going to be able to fire it to the correct temperature - My reasons for this were plain curiosity  to see how far I could get, and to see what problems I might encounter. So off to a class and  then lunch and then back to the kiln. By the time I got back what I lit had gone out so I restarted the fire and worked on it for the rest of the day until it was too dark to see. 

I realized two things - 1) I need to pre-cut or gather more smaller pieces of wood since larger logs bring down the temperature of the kiln as you put them in; so nothing bigger then a couple inches at it's thickest. 2) I need to take some sand out there and bury the kiln a bit more... it's leaking heat more then I'd like.
I did get it hot enough to get some of the pottery glowing inside the kiln by dark... so I had hope.
Once it was too dark I bricked everything up and wondered around listening at various bardic circles.

-Sunday got up early started the kiln again, then went to collect everyone for the pottery class that I took over for Shelia.
The class went really well - despite loosing one student to faulty directions (a number of them wound up at the oven and not the kiln... and one gave up on the class instead of walking across the site a second time.... darn)
Everyone made a couple of really nice pots each - but the most stunning piece was a bird sculpture made out of two pinch pots.... WOW!... I'll post pictures if it survives firing. (Update*** It survived! pictures to come***) The lady who made the bird is from Winnipeg. The other pots were really nicely done too - hopefully I won't have the problem with the bottoms cracking like last time.
After class I checked on the kiln and started to get it back up to the temperature I had it at the night before.... I got it to what I thought was a reasonable temp and poured the salt in. It was obviously not quite hot enough - Poo. Not unexpected... but poo - any ways. I think this may be a problem. The salt was hot enough to smell bad - which indicates it was melting. It also indicates I don't want to stand anywhere down wind of the fumes. I'll bring a respirator out next time just for safety.

I then tried to increase the temperature more - by this point I was running out of enough small pieces of wood - so I blocked of most of the entrance  and  started putting in what I had left. A while later I got stupid... I blame it on missing lunch and a lack of sleep the night before, and I accidentally brushed my fingers against a brick that I had used to brick up the entrance earlier (during the pottery class). It had been sitting in the dirt away from the kiln for a few hour but was still damn hot... and Ouch......After banking the fire and bricking up the kiln I went to get some ice, met a Valley wold friend, Mora, from way back, who had ice and we had a wonderful catch up on the last few years while I availed myself of her ice. Thank you so much Mora!
About a half an hour of ice and all I have are little dark marks instead of blisters - not bad - but man did it hurt at the time.
**lesson 234 - do not play with fire while hunger and tired
**lesson 387 - when playing with fire remember to keep ice at your site <dumb, dumb, dumb... had everything else for burns except ice>
After that I wondered around the site returning pottery pieces from last years class an listened to the bardic competition at Dantes <Wow! we have so many really awesome performers in Avacal. I get such warm fuzzies listening to everyone.>

- Monday opened kiln and pulled out pottery
Results <pics - when I get them from Edwina>
             7 pots total fired:
             4 pots went ting once I pulled them out - are they done??? I think I fired them to temp - but I didn't get it hot enough the second time with the salt - one of the pots actually had a salt mass that came out in the shape of the inside of the pot.... so had I manage to get the temperature a couple of degrees hotter I think it might have worked. I'll be taking them to Shelia tonight to see if they are actually done.
Update: so the pots are partially done - the thicker areas in the middle - not so done. Most definitely need to bury the  kiln.
             3 pots definitely not done - one was cracked. The others were along the left side of the kiln where the draft came in.

All in all it was a great result even if it didn't completely work. Next time I will be able to pack all my pottery along the hot side of the kiln, and I know the size of wood pieces I'm going to need - also I think 2 large bags of charcoal instead of one - and I think I'll get some lower fired clay for making pots for this (instead of the higher fire stuff that I had on hand). And if the four pieces vitrified like I suspect, that means this kiln has gone from theoretical to working. <bounce, bounce, bounce>

Edwina came by and took some pictures for me...
** Next year must not forget my camera **

Then I packed and went home.
One question remains - why do I always end up feeling like pigpen (the Charlie brown character) after Quad.
Galena pointed out that every Quad since the great oven making mud bath I manage to get myself covered in clay, mud, or dye... this year I came over to their encampment at the end of the event covered in soot as if I was a chimney sweep and availed myself of their water barrel. <Thank god for Galena's tolerance of this habit of mine every year> I had pulled out the pottery and bricked the kiln back up getting myself absolutely covered in soot in the process.

BTW If anyone ever wants ash for making lye or anything like that.... if you help chop some wood for the kiln I can provide you with as much ash as your little hearts desire each time I fire the kiln out there. (it's nice fine white ash by the end of it all)

Pictures of wood fired non-salt glazed pottery to come....