Rebuilding our Kilns
The kilns are the life-blood of the Potters' Guild. Ours were originally built over 25 years ago and are getting tired. The bricks from which they are built shrink with repeated firings and eventually the structure starts to weaken and it gets harder to maintain consistent atmospheres for firings. It was time to rebuild! We will be rebuilding both the large car kiln and the soda kiln. This will also result in greater fuel efficiency.
We are honored and grateful to have received a matching grant of $13,144 from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council to help fund rebuilding the car kiln to get it back in peak condition as well as to lessen the carbon footprint of our firings.
Work will be completed by fall of 2023. While it doesn't look like it, a kiln is a finely tuned structure that allows us to control minute aspects of the firing to achieve specific results and the quality of ware for which the Guild is known. Thankfully, we will will be in experienced hands. In coming months we'll post the progress here.
To help us rebuild the soda kiln, the Capital Region Community Foundation provided a grant of $7,500. This is sufficient funding to allow us to rebuild both kilns while the builder, who is based in Minnesota, is in the area. More efficient for cost savings. Huge thanks to the Community Foundation for their support!
The Glaze Reduction Kiln
This is the kiln we use to glaze-fire member and student pots. It holds a lot of ware! Many firings had shrunk the bricks, leaving structural weaknesses and gaps that affect the oxygen/gas ratios that are key to how our glazes turn out on the pots.
The new kiln has now been completed! Now we need to tweak the firing process and get to know its personality.
The Soda Kiln
This kiln allows for the introduction of chemicals during firing that alter the effects of the glazes. These very chemicals build up on the interior over time. Many firings shrink the bricks and threaten the structure of the kiln. Ours was not going to be functional or safe for much longer. Thanks to the Community Foundation it is being rebuilt from scratch.
Three inches of chemical buildup in the old chimney. That definitely messes with air flow!