Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kilns cooled, unloaded and now I am home, sore, and very very tired

Ok, Here we go. As you could see from my last post, I was away this past weekend firing the salt and soda kilns out at the Shaw Centre at Medalta in the Historic Clay District of Medicine Hat.
We (Me, Lorraine, Kathy, Claire, Keli, & Sumaya and her little guy and husband) left Calgary early Thursday morning, and we arrived at the centre just after noon, and began glazing etc at around 1 ish. I made waaaayyyy too many pots, but I had lots to choose from. We ended up loading just after 6 and then the kilns were turned on low over night to help dry out the wads so they wouldn't freeze and then explode in the firing. Thursday and Friday were the COLDEST to date this year. I believe we got down to -28 over night on Thursday. In fact, when we left the centre, my car's power steering froze and I had to drive to the hotel without any power steering and that is quite a feat when the roads are all rutted with snow and ice, and it's dark and in a city I'm not familiar with.
Friday was firing day, and we were at the centre by 9am turning on the kilns, but as salting would not happen until cone 9 or 10, we had a few hours to kill and Aaron, the artistic director, took us on a tour of the Medalta museum, and some other areas that have not been restored/preserved yet, and some parts that are under construction for the new museum. The Medalta factory had been in operation since the very early 1900's, where they fired beehive kilns and produced functional stoneware items for everyday use, and then began making semi vitreous white ware etc. At 2:30 or so we charged the soda kiln with 2 pounds of soda, and then sprayed 1 pound of soda and then added another 4 or 5 pounds of soda over then next 45 minutes. Salting began around 4 pm in the salt kiln, and I believe we were all done and buttoned up around 5:45.
On Saturday, while the kilns were cooling, we toured the Hicroft factory with Aaron. Hicroft was another pottery in Medicine had that was in operation up into the 80's. The factory is in an as is condition. When it closed down, nothing was moved, or sold off, so all the old machinery is still there, the slip pits still have dried slip in them, there are aprons on the hooks and time cards still by the time clock.

The bag wall on the right hand side of the salt kiln fell over and will need to be rebuilt, but that was expected. I had a pot on that bag wall, so it was pushed against the kiln wall and was blocking one of the salting ports, even though I had to chip it off, it still looks great.

Inside the soda kiln before unloading

Inside the salt kiln before unloading

close up of the ware carts after unloading

Keli and Sumaya's salt pots

My salt pots

Kathy and Lorraine's salt pots

Lorraine and Claire's salt pots

My soda pots

Sumaya and Keli's soda pots
Lorraine and Kathy's soda pots

Close up of the back side of the salt kiln. Very crusty...

The same for the soda kiln, but not quite as bad

interior of the salt kiln

Interior of the soda kiln

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