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First Firing

Coals glow in the primary fire box as the temperature rises.

Kang Proeung rakes the coals in the primary fire box.

Yary Livan clears some coals.

Yary loading wood. We will use about one cord.

Students from several colleges came to observe, including Middlesex, UMass Lowell and UMass Boston.

The visitors expressing fascination at the process included three members of the Lowell fire department. After the kiln reached 300 degrees no more smoke rose out of the chimney. Plus, the insulating brick kept the outside surface comfortable to touch with a bare hand.

The mood is relaxed and joyful as Prof. ShirleyTang's UMB students pose for a photo with Mr. Proeung, Mr. Yary and MCC Prof. Marge Rack.

It's back to work, and Proeung moves the fire up to the main fire box.

Many hours of stoking later, the crowd has thinned.  Maggie Holtzberg carefully watches the pyrometer to judge when to stoke the next load.

Nary Tith takes a turn at stoking.

Proeung operates the door as Nary steps up to load.

The kiln seems to be in a stall at 1500 degrees farenheit. Mr. Yary is consulting by phone with Mr. Kusakabe, innovator of smokeless kilns, who happens to be in the U.S. building a kiln in Tennessee. Luck for us, thank you Kusakabe for your words of encouragement!  Small diameter pieces of wood, stoking just a few at a time will help keep the fire oxiding and the temperature climbing steadily.

Mr. Proeung employs an "old school" method, reading the reflection the polished end of the steel rod makes as it nears a pot. If the reflection is glossy, the glaze is melting.

The evidence suggests our pyrometer is not working. The good news is the temperature is much higher!

The cones are falling at last.

Nary records this moment; the crew has been laboring to reach cone 8 for 17 hours. The first fire was lit at 4:30 a.m., the kiln reached cone 11 a little before midnight.

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Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 10:37 PM by rackm


Barbara Guilmet said:

Thank you Yari, Mr.Proeung, MCC and the National Parks for making this amazing project possible. I am looking forward to participating in many more wood firings in this kiln.
# September 25, 2012 9:17 AM
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