It was a cold day, and the wind was relentless. The kiln is so well insulated that it doesn't provide much warmth.
Middlesex students worked 2 hour shifts starting at 7 a.m.
The cranky pyrometer gave us trouble, despite the new longer probe.
We are grateful for help problem solving this! But this time we will again rely on the cones to verify the temperature.
There was a little warmth to be found on this side of the kiln because of the air intake openings.
Sweet corn, grilled in the coals, keeps warm along side the tea pot.
The grilled corn was delicious!
Friends and visitors dropped by throughout the day and into the evening.
Yary shows visitors a jar with Khmer ornamentation.
A little less than 13 hours later the kiln reached cone 10.
After starting at 7 pm, we were able to shut down and clean up before 9 p.m.
What a relief! Our first firing lasted nearly 20 hours.
On Tuesday, Nov. 27, at noon we plan to open and unpack the kiln. It is packed without an inch to spare with MCC student and Master Yary art works.
After waiting a day and a half for the kiln to cool down,
the artists were anxious to dismantle the door and see the results.
Yary Livan unloading the wares which are still warm to touch.
Pottery in the ware chamber.
Kang Proeung taking inventory after unloading.
David Blackburn of the Lowell National Historical Park, left, with Yary Livan.
The unusual colors on the tea pot in the foreground are a result of the ash glaze.
The owl jar by Kang Proeung is a combination of porcelain clay on the bird's breast and darker sculpture clay.
The glaze is clear. The combination of clay and porcelain is a technical tour de force.
This pedastal jar by Kang Proeung is also a combination of porcelain on the top and sculpture clay on the body, with clear glaze.
Yary Livan created this piece in homage to his mother; it represents the work women do to raise their children well.
Celebrating the successful test fire, in which 90% of the wares fired flawlessly, are Yary Livan, MCC Adjunct Professor and kiln master on the left, MCC Prof. Margaret Rack, 2010 Fulbright Hayes to Cambodia scholar and founder of the smokeless Cambodian kiln project, center, with Kru (Professor) Kang Proeung, visiting scholar/artist from Cambodia on right.
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.