Kiln Opening: The Anagama Woodfired Kiln Gives Birth
Earlier we fired the anagama kiln. Now we open it.
A kiln takes a while to heat up, and even longer to cool down. Waiting, waiting, patience; opening too early can cause thermal shock and break the pots within, opening too late – there’s no too late. There’s just how long you can look at the wrapped presents under the tree without peeking.
The kiln, the kiln it waited for a week and a half. We waited for a week and a half.
Now we waited no longer.
The door sealed by bricks, a wall a brick-and-a-half wide, all there is to keep us separated from the heat when the fire was 1350˙C, and from the pots when the inner temperature was air temperature.
The alarm set for showtime.
Slowly the wall came down, and the light came on the pots. And we can see: what can we see?
This firing went much better than my previous firing at this kiln, that we knew even during the firing. Sure there were issues: the kiln was packed too tightly. But the kiln shelves held, the fire went on longer and (about) as hot as was planned. But what will be the results?
On opening, on first peek: looks good. Some pots at the bottom of the front stack were broken, likely hit by wood sticks as they were put into the kiln. Nevermind; this is in a way to be expected, an unfortunate byproduct of the kiln’s design. The kiln design is old, millenia old, and it has its pros and cons.
But the cups: the gloss from the glaze, there’s a gloss from the glaze. The natural glaze, that is: the wood melted and in the air and landed on the pots and cooled and solidified on the pots.
As a fire brigade. One/two people inside the kiln, pulling pots off the shelves and passing them onto the line. Each person in the line: excited about the pots that they hold, excited for the pots to come, passing them all on to the next person in the line: excited about the pots that they hold, excited for the pots to come.
And sometimes a surprise. This bug, this bug came out of the kiln. No, not landed on a pot as we were taking it out; landed on a pot as it went into the kiln. And some pots didn’t survive the firing and cooling but this guy did. He came out still as night yet give him a minute we gave him a minute: he flipped himself, he flew off. After wood ash and over 1000˙C for over days.
The weather as good as the results.