MudStuffing Sketchbook

May 23, 2012

Clay 360: Day 20: Yell Fire!

Filed under: Clay360 Project,Kiln Building,Pottery — keith @ 5:48 pm

April 18, 2012

Clay 360: Day 12 Wood prep!

Filed under: Clay360 Project,Kiln Building,Pottery — keith @ 7:44 am

October 31, 2011

Pretty Damn Happy

Super stoked about the results from the last firing. I had maybe ten pots with experiements on them that didn’t turn out and hard headed to the shard pile. But aside from those the rest came out great. The firing was a bit tougher this time, took over 14 hours to get to temp. I had so many variables change this time, I am unsure what was the cause. 1) I tried to use every last bit of wood I had and right at about 2100 degrees there was some soft wood in there that I think wasn’t burning that great, maybe poplar? I’m really not sure, it wasn’t pine, and it wasn’t oak. But the correlation between that wood and the stall in temp was noticeable. 2) The previous firing I didn’t get a whole of of reduction, resulting in slightly paler pots. So this time I focused on keeping in redux. This could definitely keep the temp from rising, since the wood is burning inefficiently. 3) I stacked the kiln looser this time (see previous post) and when I unloaded, I could tell the heat was distributed un-evenly through the kiln. Some pots were barely a cone 9, others were easily a cone 11. So maybe heat was only going through certain areas of the kiln.

The warmer reduction cones in this load were really nice, and some are pretty dark. Which will be excellent constrast with some of the lighter colored decals I have been screening… Oh shit! I didn’t just say lighter colored decals did I?!?

More photos will follow later this week when I get these baby’s embellished.


Top shelf... sponge holders
Middle Shelves... Soup Bowls!

Bottom shelf... Utensil Holders

New POts!
Filed under: Kiln Building,Pottery — keith @ 10:55 am

January 3, 2011

Kiln Tour Video

I got a flipvideo for christmas, so I suppose the obligatory thing to do is make a new years resolution and say I plan on making more videos this year. We’ll see… anyways, this first video is long over due. I think I’ve been floating this rebuild of my kiln long enough and shot a quick video of it. Hopefully my shakey camera hand isn’t too shakey, and you aren’t sea sick by the end of it. I find it hard not to edit and finesse the video ad nauseum, but I figure I need to let some of my anal tendenancies go if I am going to get any videos posted this year. So I am setting the bar low with this first one, editing down in less than 30 minutes, and hopefully I’ll get quicker and better with each one.

So here’s the highlights of the new design:

  • Stoked from the front = easily stoked while sitting in a chair ha!
  • Dual bagwalls = double the brave soldiers who site on said bagwalls.
  • Inlet flue dampers = maximum efficiency and flexibility
  • Thinner door = less bricks to stack once it’s loaded
  • Different fuel… long skinny wood the length of the firebox works better than palette wood.
  • All this has meant more even firing, ease of stoking and adjustments for burning efficiency…? it used the same metal framework and size of previous kiln (although the stacking space is less due to the extra grate and bagwall).

oh, and in case you have never seen the dog house video, it’s where I got the whole “dual bag” wall thing in the first place.

Filed under: Kiln Building,Pottery,Uncategorized — keith @ 12:50 pm

October 25, 2010

How much wood does a wood kiln take to get to cone 10?

About this much…

How much wood does a wood kiln take to get to cone 10?
The blog is still in diss-array, but I am steadily working towards the next firing. Looking at the amount of wood it takes for the kiln to get to cone 10, the elusive back to back wood fired may not be a myth but a reality. We will see if it happens this holiday season. All wholesale orders are done… still have some place setting orders to bust out and then it’s onto stocking up the shelves with mugs, pancakers, thermoses, gumball machines, and hopefully another sculpture or two.
Filed under: Kiln Building — keith @ 10:36 am

April 15, 2010

Dibbs ~or~ The Declining Supply of Naturally Free Resources


So, I am on a roll, three days in a row I managed to get my 12 x 12 in. Today I threw some plates and bowls and then headed to run some errands. Dropped off some steel at Biltmore Steel, got $20, I then went and spent it on some veggie plants, and then off to my ‘not so secret’ stash of free wood. I use two “types” of wood in my kiln. I suppose purists are more concerned with the biological type of wood for their kiln, my concern is mainly size of cut. I like using cut up pallet wood for my primary fuel. I also need thin ‘edge cuts’ to help me get through stalls or really boost temp. When the kiln is at cone 8 or higher, these thin pieces of wood pretty much explode in the fire box, releasing their energy in quick bursts. I didn’t use any of these edge cuts in the last firing, and found out just how important they are in order to get the kiln to cone 10/11 in 10 hours.

Anyways, there’s a mill within 10 miles of my house, and it’s any wood firing potter’s dream… normally they have huge 14 foot bundles of this wood, bound with steel straps, and will drop it in the back of my truck with a fork lift. I drive home, bind it up with tie downs and chainsaw it into 2 1/2 foot pieces. One huge bundle plus a truck load of palletts in usually all I need for one firing, usually with some to spare.

So today I get there, and they tell me someone already has ‘dibbs’ on the wood.

“On all of it?”, theres usually 5-6 bundles stacked up outside.

“We only have one bundle left. You’ll have to talk to the manager.”

So I do… and he tells me the pottery department at UNCA has dibbs on the last bundle. “Another potter showed up here 4 weeks ago with 3 vehicles and took 4 bundles. Someone from Penland was here before that”.


I know there is a lot of potters in North Carolina, and especially in Western Carolina. We probably have a higher percentage of potters per square foot than anywhere else. I guess I just didn’t realize just how many were firing with wood and how much wood we are actually using.

I hope no one knows where I get my pallets from lol! (and no, it’s not the one in in Asheville city limits), cause you know I heard rumors of a pallet kiln just down the road ;-)

We are standing next to saw and there’s two bins of edge scraps in them. “You think I could just have these?” Luckily, he let me take what was in the bins and had someone bind them and drop them in the back of the truck. I was pretty lucky I decided to start on my fuel early for this next firing – usually I start 2 weeks before, right about the time I start glazing.

So the hunt begins for a back up source of edge cuts. If Penland is coming this far south (we are on the far side of Asheville from there), then I am wasting my time looking north. Pretty soon you know I’ll be driving as far as South Carolina, and as I drive down I26 I’ll be thinking… you know propane is sounding pretty sweet right now.

Filed under: Kiln Building,Pottery — keith @ 5:40 pm

November 9, 2009

It could be worse…

So, as I was peekign through peeps on Saturday waiting for the kiln to cool, I noticed my back stack was leaning against the stack in front of it…. uh oh… not good. Once I was finally able to get it un bricked, I could see that a kiln post had shattered? caused the whole stack to slump in the middle and lean forward. I could tell there were a few pieces on the top that were “kissing” – permanently glazed glued together – pancakers and a few large vessels.

I was able to unload the kiln without the whole thing collapsing – whew! and just a few pots had debris from the post littered in their bottoms.

The post that collapsed was just an inch or two tall. Not sure why it did, but? think I’ll be investing in some new posts for the next firing and ditching any that are questionable.

Shelf Collapse


All seems ok on the frontside…

all the pots

all the pots unloaded…

Kissing pots...

kissing pots…


Wine cooler set from the load…

Filed under: Kiln Building,Pottery — keith @ 11:28 am

November 5, 2009

Join us Live via Video: Firing the Wood Kiln

etsy-whitelatte-3, originally uploaded by mudstuffing.

Yep! She’s loaded, bricked up, wood is prepped, web cam is ON! We are gonna start stoking tomorrow around 7am and it should last till about 7pm.

You can help do some virtual stoking by checking out our live web cam of the firing: (click the video button, or scroll down and click the link).

We’ll also be web casting the unloading which should be Sunday Night or Monday Morning.

Filed under: Kiln Building,Pottery — keith @ 4:19 pm

October 28, 2009

Resources for Potters

Over the last 2 1/2 years that I’ve been bloggin, I’ve realized that a blog is great for keeping up to date on someone, but horribly innadequate as reference resource. Grouping by categories is ok,? but the fact that all posts are in reverse chronological order drives me insane. Also, with all the questions I get on topics I have blogged about in the past, it’s apparent that those posts are difficult to find. So… I’ve compiled a “page” (not a post) that organizes posts in a manner that might be more helpful to you, plus some other helpful links…

I am adding a link at the top right of the blog, that will take you directly to this resource page, where there are quick and easy links to those posts. But here is the “page” in a “post” format… does that make sense?

Published Articles – How-to

These are the articles I currently have published is Pottery Making Illustrated.


Ceramic Decals

Kiln Building

Blog posts are in chronological order so they make sense. I’ve built 3 kilns so far. These posts show in progress photos and information on firings etc.

Jack Doherty’s Soda Kiln from Tudball’s book “Soda Glazing”

Cane Creek Kiln – a Fast Fire 32 from Olsen’s book, slightly modified to fit a gas kiln I bought.

The Suburban Soda Kiln – A small cross draft soda kiln.

Blogs and Websites…

These are links to blogs a regularly follow and websites I try to keep current on…

October 13, 2009

The Suburban Soda Kiln: Part Two: The What?

As it was built in all it’s… umm… glory…
Click for bigger image…
[See thing has no sculptural value to it whatsoever, not that there's anything wrong with that, but dang... arches are just so dang pretty...]

Roof is simply kiln shelves, with ceramic fiber and soft bricks overtop for insulation. Note: the shelf directly above the firebox cracked after 5 firings, not really a worry (it was a really old shelf),? it split in half and each piece was still supported by 3 corners. However I believe this area could actually be spanned by brick over to the bag wall which would be more stable, but haven’t modified it yet. The other roof shelves do not get the same amount of intense heat the firebox one does and probably are not a concern. Also, a rabbet in the top layer of bricks to set the shelves “into” would probably help them all heat more evenly. and also give the fiber blanket and top bricks an more even setting.

Plans for the Suburban Soda Kiln

As it should probably be build.
PDF printable version of this image is available here

Shopping list (note to self: has not been double checked for accuracy?):

  • Front wall and firebox: 78 Hard bricks
  • Floors (except firebox floor which is hard): 80 soft bricks
  • Walls (except front wall & firebox): 139 soft bricks
  • Chimney: 160 Hard bricks
  • 8-10 Hardbricks for bagwall
  • Roof:
    3 – 27″x18″ 1″ kiln shelves
    5 ft or so of 1″ ceramic fiber
    50 Soft bricks
  • 3 – 13″ x 26″ kiln shelves (and some furniture) (the 3rd shelf is your damper)
  • Minimum 12 Cinder blocks (plans show 24)
  • 2 – MR100 Burners
  • 2 – 100lb Propane tanks (takes about 20 gal per firing)
  • Copper or black iron pipe for fuel line
  • Misc valves, joints, connectors for burners
  • 6-8 feet of culvert pipe
  • EPK and Alumina Hydrate to coat everything inside…
  • So that’s a grand total of:
    248 hard bricks
    297 softies

Think of it like this… you can re-use all this when you build the ‘bigger’ kiln…

Cool illustrations and animation… cause that’s how I roll…

Firebox is all hard bricks, it’s gonna get the most soda. The rest is softies which I covered with 3 parts Alumina Hydrate and 2 parts EPK.

Back wall illustration… I found the most soda when to the top. In the early stages (under cone 04) the heat focused at the top as well… however as the firing goes on, the bottom shelf? actually gets the hottest. I fired with 3 shelves of pots once, but the top shelf was a cone colder than the rest. Also the top-back, near the chimney seems to be chilly as well. An hour? soak at cone 10 helped it all even out. The last few firings have been about 8 hours start to finish and use about 20 gallons of propane.


The pictures I don’t want anyone to see… click for detail…

Suburban Soda Kiln - frontside with stack

Looking at the back of my kiln shed – but front of the suburban. The chimney is the same chimney the wood kiln uses. I built the suburban soda kiln on the back side. Kiln is bricked up and firing…

Suburban Soda Kiln - roof detail...

Roof detail. Shelf + Fiber + Soft brick. Since this kiln is only one course of bricks thick, patching up gaps is critical to get good controlled reduction. I use a mix of fireclay, different grogs and sawdust… still requires constant patching…

Suburban Soda Kiln (dual 100lb tanks)

2 100lb propane tanks hooked together, then pressure valve, to the copper pipe [down] that goes to the kiln.
2 tanks are necessary to keep them from freezing up, however I can get two firings from 2 full tanks… if that makes sense.

2 Mr-100 Burners from Ward Burner Systems. Always have a shutoff close the burner (for lighting) and by the tanks. Ideally the copper would have extended back away from the kiln further, but in my case, there’s a hill.

Filed under: Kiln Building — keith @ 8:08 am
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