Since my last posting on the train kiln I’ve had a good few firings and the surfaces are getting better. It takes time and experimentation to get to grips with any kiln. They all seem to have their own personalities. I’ve played around with the setting of the shelves trying to second guess where the flame will decide to track through the kiln. The pots nearest the inlet flues get a greater proportion of the fly ash effect and tend to be richer. Further into the kiln I have to be more creative with the use of ash glazes and slips. This results in a variety of surfaces and if the right decisions are made all the pots should be satisfactory if different. All this adds up to the unpredictability which is the lifeblood of wood fire potters. The best pots result from that happy ‘conspiracy’ between kiln and potter.
Because I’ve been feeling my way with this kiln I have kept to small scale work. Now that I’m getting more confident with its humours I will begin to include bigger pieces such as water jars (Mizusashi) and bigger vases (Hanaire)
Overall I am very pleased with the way this kiln is behaving and feel I can in time produce some good work from it. The economics of is governed with the percentage of ‘losses’ i.e. pots which fail to meet the acceptable standard one sets oneself. The successes have to pay for the failures and the price you can charge is dependent on the market in which you operate. Of course the successful potter will work hard at creating his/her market but many makers find this aspect of making pots somewhat trying.