I just lit the fire for the second round of my 1,000 bowl firing. I only have about 400 or so bowls in the 2 rooms.
I have a helper coming tomorrow in the morning, I will fire till then with a small break sometime this late afternoon. After the mighty Mr. Onishi arrives tomorrow I will take a nap and then we will go after finishing the firing. He is the ‘mighty’ because he never complains nor asks when the firing will finish. Can’t ask for a better firing partner.
I am not doing the ‘Abe Anjin’ thing. See here for more, http://wp.me/p1Bip8-f1 One more note on Anjin. It seems that the method he says is good, firing all day, breaking at night, works if you have crews to do the firing. I talked with a number of people who do his firing style and in every case the people used teams of firers to get the job done. If I had teams of ready and willing Onishi’s I wouldn’t be interested in that style of firing. I am interested in addressing the fatigue problem of firing a middle sized kiln by myself .
I found that using a burner in the kiln during the breaks caused too much temperature cycling. I went through critical temperature bands too many times, back and forth over the 580 C. band and it resulted in some weird outcomes for my black glaze. Black is usually my toughest glaze. You can do almost anything and come out with something interesting. In my last firing, linked to above, the black was a disaster. It pings fine until you put water into the bowl and then it thuds. I guess it is because of an improper vitrification but all other work pings fine. I also had a heck of a time cleaning out the kiln. Keeping a medium temperature, 500-700 C. for extended periods, 2-4 days, resulted in hard crusts forming on the ash. I had to use a metal bar to break through the crust so I could remove it from the fire box. It wasn’t fun since I had to get into the box and the height is only about 50 cm. high.
I am going way back to the olden days in this firing. I started out, 15 years ago, firing with the front firebox closed save for the space needed to stoke wood. Not quite to the point the Shigaraki firers do, more like the Kyushu firers do. I have heard Koreans firing fast-fire nobori do the firing fully open in the front. I have fired fully open in the front for a number of years but I want to try to go home as is were. I was looking at some kohiki from my first years of firing and I want to try to get that look again.
The last picture is a mirror to peek into the kiln through the roof.