548 degrees Fahrenheit. That's what I woke up to.
I am firing my glaze kiln to cone 5-6 ish, which for my kiln is a top temperature of 2199 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it hits that temperature, it stays there for 5 minutes, and then starts a controlled ramping down. This top temperature is crucial; less than that the glazes will not mature into their full colors and sheen. Too much more than that and my sensitive clay can wind up with weird bloating. A lot more than that and the clay will completely melt. It's kind of funny that it is so important, yet I called it an "ish."
Opening the kiln before its time can cause a variety of problems, ranging from the piece cracking completely from thermal shock, to the development of fine surface cracks in the glaze. And "its time" for me will be when it's around 200 degrees F. The descent from 500 degrees to 200 can be excruciatingly slow.
So I eat breakfast. Take a shower. Look at Airbnb places. Post on Instagram.
Here's Mason, the most beautiful baby on earth.
These are homemade cornmeal gluten free waffles, made by Chris, my son.
Back to waiting. What is it about the last 200 degrees???
See that tiny post, right under the lid? I was hoping that propping the lid just a smidge would move the cooling along, but it really did not drop the temperature. At all.
Say hello to my little friend, the Buddha perched on the lid. He is my kiln god. I bought him on a trip to Italy a few years before I rekindled my love affair with clay. He who overlooks my kiln is of fire himself, made from volcanic rock from Mt. Etna.
And at 353 degrees F, we're both still waiting.
I learned about firing a kiln at the same place that I learned to throw, at our amazing local arts center. I loved going there, loved the teachers and the clay talk. It was wonderful to be around people who share my obsession. But honestly, my work really started to move forward once I bought my own kiln and went out on my own. I credit/blame my children and my husband for encouraging me and funding the purchase. Even after I bought my kiln (L & L Easy fire, nearly new on Ebay - who knew that my dream kiln would show up on Ebay in a 50 mile radius of home?) I hesitated to hook it up. I sort of sniffed around it, visited it, dusted it off. It's a modern beauty too. When my mom used to fire kilns back in the 70's, not only did they require manually changing the temperature, but also they were pronounced "kills."
By the time I bought my kiln I had also set up my own studio, but I still rented at the community center. I threw at my studio and carted in my greenware to be fired, and then glazed, and then fired again. The studio manager and kiln master at the time was an incredibly professional potter, whose knowledge of everything clay is vast. We took a kiln class with him, and it's his voice that I hear in my head when I want to do something impetuous, like opening my kiln too early.
And so I wait, knowing that on the other side of waiting can be and probably will be reason to celebrate (the thicker slip/thinner glaze worked!). And devastation in some measure (the pourer does not fit in the olive oil bottle!). It feels like Christmas every time I open my kiln, regardless of the results.
But most importantly the credit and blame is all mine. This part of the process is mine. That's why I own a kiln, and will wait and wait and wait for it to cool.