Springtime Kiln Loading. Hewitt Pottery 2016.

Spring has sprung here in the South. We had our last freeze of the year last week (fingers crossed) and the trees are starting to bloom again. Great waves of pollen are falling all around usits like orange snow on your car windscreen. I've never been anywhere with so much pollen. The ants and flies seem to have noticed the warm weather and are flooding back into our house. We put up the first sticky fly tape of the year and Jasper (one of our cats) managed to tear one down and get himself tangled up in it last night. The point of this tape is that it's so sticky that flies land on it, get stuck, and die: it's extremely nasty stuff. So we had to take him to the vet for a haircut.

But enough of our springtime woes; I have lots of pictures to put up of our recent kiln loading. This week we are firing Mark's new kiln (built in 2009). It is the 11th time: the firings are stamped alphabetically so we're up to firing 'Kay.' We had a lot of bisque-ware to glaze due to all the experimental glazes we have formulated, so glazing took us a few days, but then the loading went pretty fast. Having an extra pair of hands has really helped. Stillman Browning-Howe has been working with us for the last few months, mostly laboring, as he will replace Adrian as a full-on apprentice when he leaves in a few weeks. So it's been like having three apprentices rather than two. He has helped a great deal with all of the laborious tasks needed to get ready to fire, like cutting wood, grinding kiln shelves, moving wood, mixing clamming, and rolling wads.

We stacked the kiln quicker than anticipated so now have extra time to fire. I am on the night shift tonight which will be a pretty slow easy rise in temp, then we'll take turns tomorrow bringing it up to top temp by midnight. Saturday is when we really fire it off and work the temperature back through the second and third chambers. Here are some loading snaps:


Fat jars and two part vases

More of Mark's pots

Some of our glazes

One of Adrian's platters. Love this decoration.

Some of my casserole dishes. I was pretty pleased with how these took shape and am excited to see them fired.

Casserole from above


All lined up and ready to go

The kiln. Expectant.

First row of shelves in the back chamber

We raise them off the floor to allow for ash and ember build up

Cones! These bend at specific temperatures to show you how the firing is going. We fire to cone 12 which is over 2400 degrees F.

Mark's pots ready for wadding

What next?

Starting the back stack. This is much more awkward.

Back chamber of the kiln done. The path down the middle is for stoking thin strips of wood.

This is where Adrian and I spent several days glazing all of our pots.

Stillman; master wad and coil roller!

Mark and Adrian carrying precious cargo.

Big ribbon pot by Mark Hewitt.

Stillman squeezing through a tiny gap to help pull the last big pot into the kiln.

Its in! Relieved faceswe didn't chip or break any big pots despite the tight squeeze.

Ready to be bricked in

Side view of the second and third chambers

One of Mark's medieval pitchers from the salt kiln. We were using this as a water jug during loadingslightly excessive as it holds about two gallons!

The beginning of stacking the front chamber

Pitchers, jars and small pots ready to be put in

Carrying boards into the kiln

Starting on the front stack of the front chamber
One of the final shelves goes on

Almost done!

We have a good amount of wood ready

Firebox door

We decided to build a bag wall to prevent the flame rushing under the shelves straight into the second chamber.

Bricking up the third chamber

View of the kiln all clammed up and ready

The kiln gods are watching

Firing Kay

The kiln is lit: we start with gas up to 600 degrees F.

The beast awakens!