I'm finally back from the conference! I was hoping I would have something to post about the house but I'm having to wait on my architect right now (ahem) so we'll have to make due with some more clay stuff. I thought this might be somewhat interesting to some of you. The photo above is a small portion of the mugs brought in for the annual Mug Swap. You draw like in a raffle to get your mug. I got a pretty good one and a fellow I went to school with got mine. He seemed happy with it; I hope his is. I saw several people I went to college with (which was fun)and got some good info.
The biggest portion of the time was spent at a conference center but on the last day we went to the University of Montevallo campus to unload the anagama kiln. The clay students fired it 2 weeks ago and we were allowed 1 piece each to put in it. I am standing at the back of the kiln (near the chimney) looking towards the front. The kiln is almost 40 ft. long and has over 300 cubic feet of interior space. This kiln was built in 2001 and they only fire it once or twice a year. It takes 4 and a half days, around the clock, and up to 14 cords of wood to fire! I'm almost glad the thing wasn't there when I was!
The kiln is built on a slope, into the side of a hill. The anagama is an ancient Japanese design which is built to resemble and promote the natural shape of a flame. Some of the ware is glazed but part of the purpose of such a long firing, design of kiln etc. is to let the kiln glaze the work with the ash deposits that result from so much wood being burnt. The flames traveling up and along the length also register gold and orangey "signatures" on the pieces. The temperature inside the kiln reaches somewhere around 2,400 degrees F. At this temp. ash becomes liquid and coats the surfaces that it lands on.
Here is a shot of just a little of the ware that has come out. As you can imagine, it can hold alot of pottery! Another reason its only fired once or twice a year. There's lots of congrats for the lucky people who received gorgeous pieces from the kiln and sympathies for the ones who were not so lucky. The largest pieces you see in this photo were not glazed at all before going into the kiln but received wonderful color during the firing.
This is a close up of a little cup that I thought was really nice. My piece came out okay but was not as toasty colored as I was hoping. There are very few kilns of this design and size in the U.S. and only one other that is fired by undergraduate students exclusively.