The end is near. The end of my holiday production cycle that is. All that is left to do is start the fire, feed it for 20 or so hours, let the kiln cool over a few days and unload and clean the kiln on Wednesday.
Yesterday was loading day. I arrived at Baltimore Clay Works at about 8:30 a.m. I arrived early so I could finish glazing a few pots with the BCW glazes without feeling rushed. Once that was done, I started wadding my pots. Wadding is mixture of kaolin clay and alumina and keeps pots from sticking to the kiln shelf while salt and wood ash fly around the kiln. You glue balls of it to the bottom of your pot. This is a conscious process, because the wadding leaves shadow marks on the pot which is part of the aesthetic of an atmospheric firing. So placement of each pot takes into account stability and the art of the process.
Just as I finished wadding, Scott, a fellow Art Leaguer, arrived, followed shortly thereafter by Matthew Grimes. Two of our other firing buddies couldn’t make it for the loading, so we started wadding their pots. Although we had intended to load at noon, the number of pots and limited bodies delayed us until about 1:30.
The fun thing about loading this kiln is we had a good number of pots, but not so much that we had to pack it tightly. Also, when loading an atmospheric kiln you have to be conscience of the face or front of the pot. The face is placed in the direction of the fire box in the hope that it gets shot with ash. Unlike loading an electric kiln, you really have to look at each pot before you load it. There is something very zen and intentional about this process. Jim Dugan and I loaded the wood chamber. Matt and Scott loaded the salt chamber. Louisa arrived late because of traffic, but got to help us finish loading the salt chamber and then brick up the doors.
We finished about 7:30. Not having really eaten during the day, I headed to dinner with Scott and Louisa before the long drive back home. Matt and I will arrive back at the kiln at 10 this morning to fill gaps, mud the door and start the kiln. I anticipate a long but satisfying day of stoking, eating and camaraderie around the firebox.