Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The ups and downs and somewhere in between

Firing day started off a bit windy and then, this never happens, the wind settled down and the day was perfect for a gas firing.  Mark was chugging along and I was out the door at 5 for a meeting with our local Seagrove Potters' Association.
I had left Mark some food since I would be gone for a bit, you know meetings can run long, and this one did.
I fully expected him to be wrapping things up when I got home.
Instead the kitchen looked like a quick run through with food that was close to burnt, not a good sign.
The kiln, almost at the very time I left, hung up.
It would not gain the final temperature, the pressure had dropped to the burners and it was as if the tank was freezing up.
Puzzled Mark did all he could plus calling the gas guys on a Sunday night.
The kiln was hanging at cone 9 and the cone for 10 was still standing, now we are worried, its been too long.
Do you shut the whole thing off a cone early or wait.
We waited and the 10 started to bend.
We waited some more and once the 10 was bent enough we shut it down figuring that the glazes had sat long enough to get hot.
We never look in the kiln the day after a fire because the glazes usually need a good 24 hours or more to really develop their color. Looking sometimes means seeing mud instead of the the true color of the glaze. We could both tell one thing, the fire was hot.
Tucking our tails between our legs we are working on what we think happened with the kiln.
The kiln is 26 years old this fall, the regulator that regulates gas to the kiln seems to have a problem.
After 26 years and many firings it may be just worn out or there could be some trash that has clogged  something up.
This is where I fall short and Mark could explain better.
But explain or not we are out to unload this morning.
There were more looks yesterday and we saw hot glaze, but good color with a bit more run on the ash. I can see one pot that has a run to the shelf and I am hoping that is the only one ( I hear you laughing..)
Mark has just headed out to take down the door and I need to follow.
More with pictures later, but whatever is out there we will deal and carry on.
We always do-


Mel said...

Keeping my fingers crossed that everything looks good and you did the right thing :) I would've waited for ^10 as well... Let us know how that worked!

Greetings, Melanie.

Linda Starr said...

I hope this is your best firing yet, 26 years is a good long life for the regulator, perhaps it needs rebuilding or replacing.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

oh crap, I know what its like, kiln malfunctions, sheesh! Best wishes!

smartcat said...

Toes crossed that all meets your expectations....and that any problems are easily solved

Gloria Evonne said...

It'll work out. And if need be, I'll buy those pots that ran onto the shelf. (Also, I was recently asked why I didn't become a production potter, and this kind of reminds me why.) Wishing you the best of luck!

Tracey Broome said...

Oh those nasty kilns, they do plague us don't they? Fingers crossed!

Anna M. Branner said...

It's 10:00 am. I hope by now you are doing a happy dance!

Michèle Hastings said...

our NH kiln was taking longer and longer to fire, it was 25+ years as well... we took it down, rebuilt it and all was well.
Hope all is well and there aren't too many shelves to grind (that's what Jeff is doing today).

Lori Buff said...

I'm excited to see the pictures. Thinking about cone movement being a time and temperature equation I would suspect everything is fine, but I don't doubt some may be different than what you expect. Let's hope for some happy surprises.

Kings Creek Pottery said...

I freak out when the firing stalls and never know what to do (still so new at it). Thanks for sharing- I learn from your experience and from the feedback. Anxious to hear how everything looks. What is the lifespan of a regulator?! How does a tank freeze up???....ugh, so much to learn! Hope the pots behaved~


I have a newer gas kiln with a 10-year old regulator and the newer ones don't seem to be as reliable or to last as long as the older ones. I consistently have problems with my regulator (I fire with propane instead of natural gas). I'm curious to hear if you figure out if the regulator is the issue.

Sending positive thoughts & good karma your way!

cookingwithgas said...

Julia- I will let you know what happens after the gas people look at things on Monday.