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Student-run anagama wood fire

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First, John Baymore sez to say hello for him, and sorry he missed Pres at NCECA.  John, a former member of these forums, is among the ceramics faculty of the the New Hampshire Institute of Art. His students at the Sharon Art Center in rural NH built the kiln in 2014. Students are currently doing the 2019 spring fire.  Through the NH Institute of Art's Community Education Program, I am able to participate; this is my 3rd firing in this kiln. I have uploaded some photos into the LeeU angama album in the Gallery, and will continue to add to it.  Some members of the NH Potters' Guild also participate in the workshops/courses/wood firing at the Sharon Art Center. 

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20 hours ago, Babs said:

Love to read him posting again!

Not happening. He's done with the forums and ain't looking back. From the horses mouth. 

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As others have said, good to hear from him.  Glad to see he is doing what he loves, building homes, that you can also fire ceramics in...  Maybe that could be a new charity, "Habitat for Humanities"...

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The opening and unloading of this anagama firing will be 4/28-this Sunday, 9AM.  John does commentary for the students on the firing and features as they unload.  Later-at noon-the public may come and look at the wares.  John sent this email  (excerpted) after running into a very puzzling issue:

"The issue we were contending with at that point was that the entire second step area of the kiln was lagging in temperature climb.  The whole top-to-bottom area right behind the first side-stoke firebox.  It is possible that the thermocouple probe in the top of that area was blocked / interfered with by a close piece of work, but the cones in the spy ports there tended to also confirm the lagging temps there.  I could find no expected reason for this lagging in that section of the kiln.  It has never done so before.  Over the  next many hours we tried everything I and others could think of to get that area to climb in temperature more quickly.  We were running out of ideas.  I've been wood firing since 1969....... and I was finally stumped.  (In other text, he detailed the ruling out of certain variables, such as weather/lu) We finally, through very careful stoking and persistence, managed to get cone 10's down in the upper and mid part of that middle section of the kiln..... but it was a real battle to get there.  The only colder part of that middle step stacking was the very bottom area.  I ended up personally stoking for about 1 1/2 hour on that sidestoke firebox in order to get the cone 10's about 1/2 way down there.   So we should have reached a cone 9 solidly down in that area. Front area had 13's down........ progressing to 12's as we moved back.   We had cone 11's down in the final rear step of the kiln.... which traditionally was the place that the kiln has fired a little cooler. 

So I am expecting when we unload it is possible we may find something 'dramatic' happened somewhere in the load in that second step.  At the least, I am hoping there might be clues that we can see in the unload that might explain why that second step was so hard to heat up.  I am very curious... and really want to know for my continuing education in woodfire.

As I talked about as we were loading, every anagama firing is a different firing, because the LOAD is different every time.  Each firing is a problem solving session.  We finally solved this one, but maybe just a tad not as well as I'd have liked.  This probably ended up being the most difficult firing we've had in this kiln.  And after a wonderful start!  I think the overall results will still be good."

Pics to follow after the event. I'll put them in the LeeU Anagama Fire album/lu

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That sounds like an adventure!  Every time I see videos of these haggard old wood firers I think "are these bored millionaires or something?" Just because of all of the money, work and failure involved.  But no, I think they're mostly just crazy :D

i can't wait to see the results, Lee!

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Got this in an email to the students today, from John (abbreviated): “I am formally retiring from my teaching role in the BFA program at New Hampshire Institute of Art effective at the end of this semester…. will still offer to lead the college's fall and spring anagama firings for a little while... (and possibly) ... do an occasional "workshop" type offering through the Community Education Department.  But I am going to be done with my career of day-to-day post-secondary level teaching. ... I plan to be able to spend more time in my personal studio making clay work, to get out and present more short-length workshops at various other venues, to continue to learn more about clay and other media, and to work on a book that has been in process for a long time and needs finishing. Although I've cut back on a lot of international travel, I 'need' to get back to Japan again....”

If anyone wants the complete message-much longer,  contact me and I'll forward it. Lee

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Went to the opening/unloading of the Fushigigama -took many hours- kiln is roughly 20' x 10' w/18' chimney (guestimate); wonderful fire results...John said it hit cones 10-13.  I've decided I'm not up for all the resizing I'd have to do to post pics in an album so here is one of my pieces (celedon & clear; stamped/paddled/torn; "Z" body....happy happy.  It's about 6.75" x 4"; it's a utensils/desk top holder. The tables you see are only 3 of 10, for the total output. 

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Edited by LeeU

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There are over 70 great pics (if I do say so myself) of the 2019 spring anagama fire unloading at the Sharon campus (of the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the oldest and largest non-profit arts institution in New Hampshire, founded in 1898,  which has just merged with New England College). I am the photographer--all images are restriction-free for use as public education. Credit: Lee Ustinich/leeuceramics.com (when possible-thanks). The photos are on my Pinterest Clay board -either link will get you there 

https://www.pinterest.com/LeeUstinich/clay-kilns-and-firing/fushigigama-unloading-4-2019/       https://www.pinterest.com/LeeUstinich/

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Thanks so much Lee.

Was wkndering if there was a a solution to the strange temp. Behaviour mentioned by John when stoking kiln and if this was reflected in the glazes in that section.

Your pot is FANTASTIC.

Lovely memories in that one.

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5 hours ago, Babs said:

solution to the strange temp

It was kinda funny to watch him-it was driving him bananas---wanting to solve the mystery.  I eventually  heard him say it was a failed thermocouple and faulty cones, but I know so little about the mechanics of wood firing  that I am not sure I wasn't being spoofed.  

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Hmm

Hope that wasn't what drove him to retire!!!

Hope to see some of his work somewhere around the net.

Valuable national treasure that John is!

Will check out your pininterst postibgs when I have time to enjoy yhem without interruption

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