A lot has changed as far as the needs of ceramics. We have cheap and plentiful, but mostly soulless, daily use pottery. I think that because we have so much mass produced ware that it has given us a desire and a fantastic opportunity to breathe new life into ceramics. We are a connected world but we are so often missing those intimate connections. What is more intimate than a cup or a bowl and an offering of food or drink to a friend or a family member?
It occurred to me, a while back, that eating together is a very intimate act. Eating with a stranger is a primal and meaningful act that allows people to come together. You learn a lot just by partaking in this simple action and the inevitable conversation that comes with it.
Using a cup or bowl also involves the maker. If you drink from a cup made by someone you know, they are with you in a way. Even if you dont know the maker personally you know that the intention is there. If it is an honest vessel it comes not only with the clay and glaze but also with the intention of that connection. Clay is a way to connect with your fellow human beings in a way that no other medium allows you to achieve.
It occurred to me that I didnt do a proper post about the kiln conversion. Been a bit behind lately I guess.
So here it is.
I found this information on the Ward Burner site which is a fantastic resource. You cant even buy a burner without talking to someone and going through the entire process and calculations so that what they sell you is specifically designed to do what you want to do. They are fantastic to work with. The MR100 burner with the regulator that pushes 11WC” of pressure. Its the standard off of any tank. I got this burner because it pushes more BTU and it is bad to the BONE!
The important information:
Burner port is 1″ wider than the burner dimentions
Exhaust port is 2″ wider than the burner dimentions
First put on your mask. DO THIS! You dont want to breathe this stuff. It might not kill you right away but it would be a shame to end your ceramics career and life before your have to.
It starts off like this.
Get it cleaned out. Vaccum it out with a shop vac and get the inevitable junk out of it.
Then get in there and remove the dangly bits and the wires and controller if it has one.
Then carefully remove the elements. Those were the most troublesome part as they kept trying to break off the lip of the fragile soft brick.
For the exhaust I cut the soft brick of the lid using a small saw. I drew the template using a straight edge ruler and a permanent marker but just about anything will do. This shows the width as 2″ larger than the burner port.
I intentionally cut my exhaust width wise to the correct dimensions but cut it longer than necessary so that I could put a kiln shelf or two on top and regulate how much air gets in or out as well as move the port to the font or the back of the kiln during firing.
Cutting the burner port itself was a challenge due to the sheet metal housing. I ended up drilling a hundred small holes and then doing my best to clip off the sharp edges using some wire cutters.
Make sure you have a tank of LP Propane, depending on how fast and how hot you are firing you might need a larger tank. I opted for the 100lb tank and I have another 2 firings out of it before I have to refill it. You can see the vapor line of condensation indicating the level of fuel left in the tank. A 20lb BBQ tank would most likely freeze up before I got to temperature.
A new porcelain bowl. I’m experimenting with a new kodai (foot ring) form, that gently dips downward towards the bottom creating a concave section and a foot that tapers to a softened point. It has taken longer and presented new challenges with this bowl because I shaped the form to completion outwardly. I cannot carve the outside further. I think the end result is worth the technical “challenge” (if you can call it that). I guess it’s less a challenge than just an order of operations thing. You just complete the outside first and I’m used to leaving the outside mostly unfinished and forming for the interior.