Thursday, November 29, 2007

Barrel Firing Notes

Remember the wire wrapped bottle? Well here it is after the firing.

You can see the vertical lines left by the 17 gauge wire. The wire was loosely wrapped around the bottle so I imagine that if tightly wrapped you will get more pronounced lines. The wire also did not melt during the firing and had to be unraveled off the bottle after it was pulled from the ashes.

I also wrapped a line of heavy gauge solder around the neck of the bottle and near the base. The solder did melt and there was no trace of it after the firing. I think the solder has some interesting potential.

On the back side of the bottle where the solder was wrapped around the neck there were small patches of metalic maroon and a couple shades of blue and purple. It was a small patch but it was only one strand of solder. In any case I think the solder might produce some real interesting and beautiful results.

I did a little bit of research and solder has a melting point of about 360F and most retail solders contain approximately 60% tin and 40% lead. Perhaps it is the tin that produced the metalic flashes.

This bottle was not burnished so it doesn't have the nice glossy marble look, but the flame patterns and the contrasting colors make it extremely interesting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Barrel Firing Notes

Results are in from the Banana Peel Experiment.

This was the only pot that came out of the barrel firing that had red on it. I am attributing the red to the banana peels for two reasons: one being it was the only pot in the barrel to have red color markings, and two being the manner in which I draped the peels over the pot. On the inside of the pot the red markings go down about 1/3 of the way and then stop, probably because that is the way I draped the peels.

The black marking on the front is a result of how I placed the pot in the barrel. Before loading the pots into the barrel I dumped about 8 inches of sawdust into it to create a nice soft bed to place the pots. This pot was laid into the sawdust at about a 45 degree angle, the black area being the part that was in direct contact with the sawdust. This area got the least amount of oxygen during the firing and produced the jet black color you see.

A couple other things to note about this pot is the rough, dry matte surface, and the banana peel shadow on the bottom side of the pot. Since the pot was not burnished prior to the bisque firing, it produced the matte surface. I will post a photo of the banana shadow on my Flickr site. You can get there by "My Photo Gallery" link on the right hand side of this page.

Anyway, I'm really pleased with my 3rd barrel firing and especially the banana peel experiment. I'm still going to have to try it again, but all I can say is "Bring on the Chicken bones!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Barrel Kiln Notes

Just some notes about the barrel kiln. This is actually a photo of me drilling holes into my first barrel kiln, but after yesterday's firing I felt the need to comment about drilling holes into the barrel.
This barrel burned really well, I believe, because holes 1/4 inch were drilled approximately every 6 inches in the middle section and the bottom section of the barrel. I also drilled several holes in the bottom of the barrel. So much wood is packed into the barrel during the firing that without the holes I think it would take forever for the fire to burn and quite possibly just burn out due to a lack of oxygen.
I say this because in my newest barrel kiln that I fired yesterday I wasn't able to drill enough holes because my drill batteries ran out of juice and as a result I had more smoke than fire. I won't know how well the newest barrel kiln fired until I can check it out after work today but I firmly believe, after my past two firings, that the more holes the better and what has worked well for me so far has been holes drilled appoximately every six inches around the exterior of the kiln.
Regardless, I'm drilling more holes.

Barrel Firing No. 3

Yipee! Yipee!

Finally. After weeks of rotten windy weather and set backs of some sort or another I was able to light up my 3rd barrel fire. Although, this one almost didn't happen as well.

I wanted to light it up on Friday afternoon, but too much wind. Wanted to light it up Saturday, but too much wind. Sunday was a great day so I jumped in the jeep for the short drive to the kiln and my truck died. Just died. Conked out going up the Coon Valley hill and I couldn't get it started. Had to get it towed back into town. Needless to say I was pissed off and bummed out. It really seemed like I was never going to get this barrel lit.

Don't know what happened to the truck but it started up the next day and although it was a little bit windy, I was going to light this barrel kiln.

I got a good load of hard hickory wood from my friend Tom but it was a bit green. Dang near ran out of matches before I got this thing going, but I got it going. I started it about 1pm and after feeding it for about an hour and a half let it burn down to coals.

Stay tuned for the results. Hope to have them posted tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.

Barrel Firing Notes

More barrel firing notes.

I have no idea what effect the banana peels are going to have on this pot. Somewhere I read that chicken bones and bannana peels produce interesting colors so I laid banana peels over the rim of this pot and secured it in place with some 17 gauge wire.

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Barrel Firing Notes

Another Experiment for the next barrel firing. This time I wrapped a bottle form with 17 gauge electric fence wire. (Its what was available) I also had some thick solder so I wrapped a couple rings around the neck of the bottle and two rings on the lower part of the bottle.
Once again, the weather wasn't cooperative this weekend to fire up the kiln. It was too windy. I'm hoping for better weather today after work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Barrel Firing Notes

I'm searching for new colors and new effects on my barrel fired pots. This will be barrel firing number three. Here is my first experiment.

No, my pot hasn't grown a beard.

I used #3 steel wool that I cut open and stretched out to wrap around the lower third of this pot.

To help secure the wool in place I used some copper speaker wire that was stripped free from its insulation.

Barrel Firing Notes

I wrapped some masking tape over the steel wool to compress it to the pot. But after the fact, I realized that the tape is going to catch fire, burn up, and the steel wool is still going to be loosely wrapped around the pot.

I'm thinking about laying this pot down in the sawdust so that half of the form is buried in the sawdust and the other half exposed to the fire and coals.

Once again, we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Forms

I cranked out some new forms this past weekend. Basically bottle forms and vases for my barrel firing.

I managed to burnish four of the vases this weekend but was unable to bisque fire them. I was hoping to light-up the barrel kiln, but as usual it didn't happen as scheduled. Its going to happen next weekend, weather permitting.

These bottles and vases are about 12-13 inches tall, except for the shorty up front.

The two forms I like the most are the rounded bottle form with the flattened top and the bottle form just to the right of it.

Back to burnishing. I did briefly describe burnishing in a July 2007 Post but never really explained why I put the laborious time into getting a high satin gloss surface on the pots before firing them in my barrel. I suppose the main reason I burnish the pots is because I like the polished glossy surface when the pieces are pulled from the ashes. Burnishing is like polishing. It rearranges and compresses the clay surface particles and creates a smooth even texture that accepts the colored markings from the fire much more dramatically.

Burnishing my pots can take between one and three hours of rubbing and rubbing in very small circular motions with the back of a metal spoon. Another method to get this smooth glossy surface is by applying a layer of Terra Sigillata to the pot and then buffing to a high sheen using a soft cloth. Terra Sig is another new uncharted territory for me, but one that I'll get to.

Currently I am more interested in discovering what types of organic and inorganic materials create what colors during the firing. Not to mention, I am also looking for appealing pottery forms that compliment the entire process of "Barrel Firing."