Friday, June 25, 2010


I (James) found it necessary to make some improvements to the Tube, one was a roof extension to increase weather protection during the fall and winter and to increase the insulation on the Tube. When I fired the kiln it was almost unbearable to to be around even in mild weather and the cooling was much to quick for my taste. So after some discussion, gathering materials that were almost forgotten about, and preparation the new improved Tube will be functional just in time for the Symposium and long into the future. The kiln was constructed with one layer of these strange wedged shaped bricks, making the walls only 7 inches thick, and when the kiln heats up many gaps between the bricks appear. Trying to utilize what we had on hand, the back up insulation is varied. The main and left side stoking area are backed up with 3 inch soft brick and the remaining sides are insulated with either 1 or 2 inches of Fiberfrax panels.
The layer above the arch is a combination of soft brick and fiber. All this is covered with chicken wire and steel around the stoking doors and spyhole to keep these areas stronger and protected. The stucco for the sides consists of 2 parts screened concrete (to remove large stones), 1 parts fireclay, 1 part silica sand or coarse grog, and 3 parts vermiculite, mixed and troweled on smooth. The arch is receiving a looser coating of stucco of 2 parts concrete, 1 part clay, 7 parts vermiculite. It's already looking like a different kiln.

Friday, June 18, 2010

El Gato del Diablo

and/or: The Devil Cat, The Cat of Satan, HellCat, the New Wood Kiln

Ohio University is famous for building huge kilns, three of the five kilns here could easily take 1 1/2-2 months for one person to fill. We are on the quarter system (ten weeks), and firing one of these beasts by yourself is almost a logistical improbability, given the time to make pots, split wood, fire, cool down, and present, all withstanding the inevitable rains storm Athens is blessed with.

I had been reading Brandon Phillips blog for many years, and following his firings. I decided that I liked his kiln design, and sensible approach to a one-man sized kiln with quick firing time, and efficient use of fuel. Also, the university lacked a kiln dedicated to Wood/Salt.

After firing the double catenary arch kiln ("The Double Bubble) twice, both times to disastrous results, I convinced Brad that we needed an new kiln. I pitched the idea to Brain, and we started researching plans, with much technical help via e-mail from Brandon.

Here's a picture of Brandon's former kiln down in Texas, my original inspiration...
Before we could proceed with construction of a new kiln, we needed to demolish the Double Bubble and salvage bricks from the floor and Bourry box...
Once the accursed old kiln was down, and the bricks sorted and counted, we began laying the cinder block for the foundation...
According to Appalachian tradition the setting of a perfectly square floor demands a hillbilly jig be danced
the arch goes up...

Brian Dieterle: ceramics deptartment tech, instructor, kiln building foreman, architectural designer, technical consultant, pro-am welder, and all around good guy.
skip ahead many moons, many welds, and many cursing fits...and voila:
My one request for this kiln against all others was that it have a swinging door. The very essence of woodfiring luxury. And per Brandon's advice we put stoke doors on both front and back sides...

Heres the kiln loaded for its maiden voyage...
The obligatory cone pack shot

James and I inspecting the finished work.
The firing was smooth, and easy. The results were great and continue to be. Thanks to Brandon Phillips, Brian Dieterle, Brian Pierce, Chelsea Ruwe, Paul Callahan, Elliot Marquette, John Fitz, Sara Reid, Britt Thorpe, and Bill Kravis for their efforts in making this kiln a successful addition to the OU stable.

Artist Preview

We've put the finishing touches to our Visiting Artists poster and sent it off to the printers. We're really excited for Josh, Lindsay, Missy, and Matt to join us.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're gonna need another box of Cone 12's

This is the official sign up board for all the outdoor kilns. "Bud Wood" likely refers to the Tube kiln, and definitely to Budweiser. "Jochens Kiln" is the German Kiln, "Ted's Train" needs no explanation, the "Hum'R Cat" inexplicably refers to the large catenary arch, and "El Gato Del Diablo", well thats a post yet to come...

The Log Blog

In preparation for this summers woodfiring Symposium, we have been splitting and stacking wood in every available square foot of the kiln pad...

Most of this is hardwood...oak, ash, and poplar...

these are some nice pine slabs we source from a local sawmill in McArthur

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Strange Case of the Mysterious German Kiln

This is the "German Kiln". Little is known about this kiln, as it has not been fired in several years, though it shows signs of once being heavily fired and salted. It is an anagama/updraft salt-wood hybrid. The anagama firebox is built on a metal slope and leads directly into a sprung arch ware chamber. The damper is built into the stack directly above the ware chamber, which is unusually small.

The facts, as we know, them are as follows:
  • It was built by Jochen Dobers, who is the tech at the Art and Design School in Halle, Germany, in 1997.
  • There is a sister kiln, exactly like it in Germany. The version here at OU, according to myth, cannot be torn down, until the one in Germany first comes down.
  • It is extremely weird.
  • It was once fired by the legendary Bizen potter, Setsuo Watanabe, pictured below.
these are examples of Watanabes work,

It is said that Joe Davis fired this kiln, but this is remains an unvalidated rumor...
Tingey has plans to fire this strange little mutant sometime soon, stay tuned for more information.

Big Cat

The "Big Cat" Kiln, is the larger of two catenary arch kilns at Ohio University.

This kiln is extremely efficient, using a minimum of wood, and firing in as little as 24 hours.
It is, however, massive, and usually takes a wheel throwing class to fill it.
The results are light on ash, but great for glaze firing, and produces good color from the clay bodies.

It was built by Boomer in 2005, and replaced the original catenary kiln designed and built by Gil Stengel in 1993.

Modular Wood Transportation Unit

This is a system for storing and moving split cord wood cooked up by Brian Dieterle, our current Ceramics Tech, and myself . We have 8 of these, of varying sizes.

Tube Kiln

The Tube Kiln was built in 2006, by Boomer Moore.
Boomer served as Ceramic Tech, and Instructor at Ohio University for nine years. He is currently an Assistant Professor at WVU .

The tube kiln sat dormant for a few years, until recently when it was fired by James Tingey, with excellent results.

The kiln has a castable arch, is front loading with the main stoking door on the side. There are small side stokes on each side, directly before a raised step in the back 1/3 of the kiln.

James' firing, as it is the only one in recent memory, serves as our only source of current firing information about this kiln. It was fired for 40 hours, using roughly 2 cords of wood.

The following images are of James Tingey's work from the Tube Kiln Firing, Spring 2010.

this footed vase came from the front, near the floor.

these pots evidence the wide range of results that can be achieved in a single firing.

Rare Birds

Heres a few woodfired pieces from Brad Schwieger, professor and chair of the Ohio University Ceramics Department.

Train Kiln a la Black Adler

The Train Kiln was built in 2002 by Ted Adler to support his graduate thesis research. Later it was used by Steve Schaeffer in 2005.

This is absolutely a beast of kiln, featuring a huge bourry box, a castable arch, two side stokes, a side loading door, and a damper system that can be adjusted across the flue from both sides.

Typically this kiln takes 36 hours minimum, and about 2-4 cords of wood.

This kiln was designed to produce heavy ash deposits on medium to large sized pieces...

Prior to this kiln becoming a permanent fixture on the kiln pad, Brad Schwieger would teach kiln building classes in which the class would build a train kiln, fire it, then tear it down, only to build another the next quarter. The first train kiln built at OU was in 1990.