1After each pot is made and all trimming, carving and handling are complete the pieces are allowed to dry for one to two weeks, depending on their size. Each pot is then sanded with a soft brillo pad to remove any sharp edges or marks on the surface. The pieces are loaded into an electric kiln to be bisque fired. This type of firing reaches 1750 Fahrenheit and will harden the clay. It takes one day to load and complete this firing.
2The next day we unload the kiln(s) and inspect the pieces for flaws and cracks. All successful pieces are cleaned by blowing dust off of the surface with an air compressor or washing them with water. All cracked or flawed pieces are discarded. The pieces are then sorted to be glazed in specific colors. To learn more about glazing click here.
3After the glazes are applied to the surface the pots are prepared to be loaded in the gas or wood kiln for a final firing. Each kiln works well for certain colors or finishes. See "glazes" for the type and description of finishes for each method of firing. Each pot is hand loaded into the kiln by one or more people. It takes one day to load a gas kiln and one to two days to load the wood kiln depending on the size and amount of pots to be loaded.
4Approximately 50 to 100 pieces can fit in the gas kiln and 200 to 500 pieces can be fired in the wood kiln. The firing of the gas kiln takes one day and two days for the wood kiln. The wood kiln is monitored around the clock for the two day firing. The temperature has to be increased in a slow manner to ensure even heat in the kiln.
5The wood we use for the firing is the edgings or slabs from logs cut at local sawmills. We use mixed hardwood (oak, maple, ash, hickory, etc.) up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and pine to blast the kiln up to 2400 degrees.
6Special gauges are used to monitor the temperature. A temperature gauge is used as well as pyrometric cones that are made similar to the clay and glazes are stood upright in the kiln adjacent to the pots. Certain cones will bend over at the peak temperature and are a more accurate measurement. See the photo of cones made before and after firing. Once the kiln reaches temperature we hold it there for three to twelve hours to soak the kiln and ensure even temperature. The kiln is then sealed up with brick and mud to cool slowly for two days.
7The unloading of the kiln can be expected with much anticipation. Unloading a kiln can be like Christmas day or Halloween!! You never know how the firing will turn out every time. Variables in material and kiln firing methods can result in different finishes each time. Placement of the pots can be a key factor in how a glaze will react in the firing. The same glaze in one spot of the kiln will react differently in another.
8After all the pots are unloaded from the kiln, the pieces are inspected for quality and finish. All cracked or unacceptable finishes are discarded. The bottom and sides of the pots are sanded to ensure a smooth finish and will be comfortable to touch. The pieces are then priced and transported to the showroom.