Monday, July 19, 2010

Things That Go Pop in the Night

Oh boy.
It just had to happen.
Famous Last Words (FLW) in action as I was just talking to my friend about fast firing my pots.
While the kiln was firing last night, I looked in the peephole to see how things were and low and behold, I saw some fragments.
I was apprehensive about opening it up this morning:

What happened was that yesterday, in my haste to get a load of pots done, I loaded up some stuff that was still wet(cold). I gave the kiln some time to burn off the moisture by leaving the lid open as the temperature went up, apparently not enough time.
As soon as I closed the lid, something popped.
Well, it was pretty much a dull red(about a 1000-1200 degrees F) in there, so all you can do is hope and pray.
So much for praying:

Thankfully, it didn't take out the bottom pot too.
Sometimes the explosions are so bad, all the other pottery around the exploding piece suffers some sort of damage.
This is what happens when water/steam is trapped in the clay body. As the temperature rises, it cannot escape fast enough so it just morphs in to a ceramic grenade:

This can also happen if air is trapped in the clay body. The air and the moisture expand with the heat and, well, you see the results.
Boy, I feel kinda foolish now for as I said, I was just telling a fellow ceramic artist how I was experimenting with fast firing my bisque.
Oh yeah, I am a professional, don't try this at home.
I think I better wait an extra day to let my stuff dry out naturally.
Too bad it popped, I really liked the shape of that one:

I'm not too sad though.
I've learned not to become too attached to my work, especially since in ceramics, bad things sometimes happen to your work in between the making and the firing.
Pots explode, bowls warp, glazes run and stick to the shelf, colors don't come out how you expected, etc.
I mean it's only clay.
I can make more.


John Romeo Alpha said...

It's a shame to see the work turn to dust though. Is there a way to test the moisture level before committing them to the inferno?

dogimo said...

You've got the right attitude for a creator!

Holy crap, though. Thousand-plus degrees.

limom said...

Mr. JRA, the appropriate preventive measure is to handcuff the Know it All artist to some immovable object so that the said ceramic ware has the opportunity to dry correctly.
In other words, I just did it wrong.
Oh, and the way to check is to hold the ware to your cheek and if it's colder than room temperature, it's still holding moisture.

Mr. Dogimo, maturing temperature for this kind of clay is actually around 1940 F. or a sort of orange/bright orange.
I have heard of someone who fires it a tad hotter(I've been thinking of doing this) though I think at this point, the above handcuffs may be a more reasonable option.