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A Potter's Partner

Fire metamorphoses materials and, as kiln designer Jim Bailey says, "Temperature means nothing unless time goes with it." The I Ching says, "Fire brings forth nature in it's radiance."

Having a kiln is a big commitment, and firing unleashes evidence and mystery. I view the firing process as a window into processes of Earth. Following are fuel-burning kilns I've either built or bought (I've had electric ones, not shown here):



Initiator
Initiator

Kiln # 1 in service 1971 to 1974

First studio designed by architect Mervyn Fernandez. Kiln is inside the building; owner-built (thanks to coaching from Phil Homes).

LP Gas Kiln: downdraught, top-loaded insulating firebrick indoor kiln. Roof made of insulating firebrick suspended on stainless steel rods. (Kiln's roof design courtesy Jean-Paul Patnode, Stowe Vermont.)

44˚16'15.15" North, 72˚25'3.09" West Cameron Road, Plainfield Vermont.

Kiln-1
Friend
Friend

Kiln #2 in service 1975 to 1979

LP Gas Kiln: downdraught, sprung-arch, insulating firebrick interior wall, mortared red-brick exterior wall, free-standing roof. Owner-designed and built; roof and plumbing by Tom Renshaw.

41˚31'29.32"North, 70˚39'31.27"West 58 Leslie Street, Woods Hole MA.

Kiln-2
Gashog
Gashog

Kiln #3 in service 1979 to 1981

Industrially-built 1947 updraught muffle kiln lined with ceramic tubes that protected ware from flame impingement. It was made for natural gas and converted to LP gas. A gift from Rita Price (it had been Job Negiem's kiln).

41˚31'13.19"North 70˚40'7.04"West
Juniper Point, Woods Hole MA

Kiln-3
Monster
Monster

Kiln #4 in service 1979 to 1997
This downdraft sprung-arch LP gas-fired kiln had four burners and an exit flue in the middle of the floor that tunnels under the floor. The eleven inch thick wall construction is a sandwich of super-duty hard brick interior, insulating firebrick on edge middle, hard-brick exterior. The super-duty hard-arch brick interior is covered with castable refractory insulation and poured vermiculite.

Owner-designed and built with foundation by Tom Renshaw, steel design and welding by Peter Bumpus.

41˚31'13.19"North 70˚40'7.04"West
Juniper Point, Woods Hole MA

Kiln-4
The Bricks Move On
The Bricks Move On

41˚31'13.19"North 70˚40'7.04"West Juniper Point, Woods Hole MA

Stories of humans interacting with materials continue to fascinate me. Having built this, seeing it come apart is indescribably fascinating. I read bricks as people read books and both have stories to tell.

These bricks are going to a young man who's as likely to fire pots as he is to make pizza and bread.

Known history of these bricks: Brooklyn Navy Yard donated to Goddard College, some to me. Other bricks, from a later time, from two sites at Otis Air Force Base.

M-00
Zanatali
Zanatali

Kiln # 5 in service 1997 to Present

A downdraught shuttle kiln that is fired with natural gas. It has two burners and two blowers. It's the kiln I bought for developing work using marine materials as glazes. It was designed and built by Bailey Ceramics.

41˚29'50"North, 70˚39'.42"West
Juniper Point, Woods Hole MA

As of October 2016, Zanatali is disassembled: bricks, venting and burners are headed to New York State, steel has been scrapped.

Kiln-5