Fired up

There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a kiln firing that goes off without a hitch.

For several Barnies, that happened Saturday, Dec. 19. Jane, Barb, Sid, Liisa, Leah, Jim Reinert (every potters’ mentor) and I – participated. It was the first firing for us in many, many months, due to COVID and a transition in ownership at the Red Barn – both of which slowed some of us down.

I had nearly 11,000 cubic inches of ware to bisque and glaze. I loaded two electric kilns to bisque my work. I then spent a grueling 14.75 hours at the Barn on the 5th, waxing pot bottoms and glazing my work.

Barb and Janice loaded everyone’s pots into the kiln on the eve of our firing. Jane candled the kiln that night, and I met her around 10:30 the following morning. It was chugging along at around 900 degrees when I arrived. Our goal was to keep the temperature rising; to achieve and maintain reduction.

Our fire was a beautiful, cloudy orange, and the pressure inside the kiln caused the flames to flick out of every opening, which told us we had successfully balanced the gas and oxygen levels inside the kiln to achieve a reduction atmosphere. Jim stopped by at around 3:30 p.m. After checking all the peepholes, he gave us an encouraging thumb’s up and estimated that we still had at least five hours to go. Cone 07 was flat, Cone 6 was at 11 o’clock, and Cone 8 had softened. At the top peephole, our witness cone softened as well.

“Maintain reduction, and you’ll be in great shape,” Jim said. And that’s what we did. Our progress couldn’t have been better orchestrated.

Shortly after, the fire turned a bright whitish-yellow, and the kiln temp gradually crept upward. By 9:30 p.m., Cone 10 was at 3 o’clock, and Cone 11 was at 2 o’clock. We turned off the gas and shut things down. The proof would be in the pudding.

Pottery pickup was Tuesday, the 22nd, and it was like waiting for Christmas. I’m thrilled with the quality of our firing – I think everyone was. In Jim’s words, “Segar Blue is a good indicator of reduction – and your Segar Blue turned out perfectly.”

Jim congratulated us all for a perfect kiln firing. It really was the best firing at the Red Barn.

My ware was either commissioned or requested as holiday gifts, so I felt tremendous pressure to produce results. I’m pleased to report that they’re all on their way to homes in Hawaii, New York, Denver and Michigan, where I hope they’ll make meals a little more joyful.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!

“Nothing is unreal as long as you can imagine like a crow.” Munia Khan


Published by Lolo Robison

Crackin’ Crow Pottery is a Greater Lansing clay studio owned and operated by ceramic artist Lolo Robison. What’s a crackin’ crow? Simply put, it is an alliterative translation of “good crow.”

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