Saturday, August 6, 2011

Making A Production Out of It

The weather in Lubec has been
gorgeous these past couple days with blue skies and lots of warmth.
Perfect for quick-drying pots outside!
(Honey pots, boulibase bowls, and tumblers)

Honey Pots ready to be trimmed and fired.

Me working on a vase.
I admit it, I am lacking any sense of fashion with those pink wool socks and yoga pants.
No, that's not grey hair.
It's clay.

I uploaded photos nearly two weeks ago and intended to blog, but time just got away from me. I have been in heavy production for the past month in preparation for the Machias Blueberry Festival next weekend, but ran into some snags when I started the rounds of glaze firing. Last Wednesday morning the cone 6 glaze firing was on it's 15th hour of firing, far too slow, and clocking in at 3:30 a.m. With less than 100 degrees to go before completion, the kiln had an Err1. This happened during the last firing that I did back in June, too, but I was able to restart the kiln and finish the firing. I thought it was a fluke. This time, I attempted to restart four times over and after 24 hours of monitoring the kiln, I realized that it just wasn't going to happen.

That morning, between the kiln and other events, I was on the phone ten times. The next day, almost as many. Problem-solving mode kicked into high gear. New elements were on their way UPS but did not arrive on Friday as expected. Mind you, I had a firing schedule lined up that included two bisque fires and four glaze within one week: a strenuous schedule to begin with. I did receive one relay in the mail, but after speaking with Skutt tech support, one technician said it was not the elements, but the relays (he thought). Of course, the second technician said it was the elements. Had to be. I had one relay from Portland Pottery, but Skutt said I needed to replace all three. (Head spinning, three people, three different solutions). So, elements arrive tomorrow, and by Tuesday I will have the additional two relays in hand - and Chris and I will repair the kiln. In my twenty plus years of potting, I have never done this. Baptism by fire, so to say.

Once the parts are replaced, an empty firing will have to be done to "season the elements". Each firing cycle is about 24 hours (or should be!) between the firing and the cooling. So, after loading parts, will do the empty firing then two glaze loads, which takes me up to Friday when all must be packed and ready to ship. On the bright side, I will have plenty of pottery ready and waiting to be fired for the Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour in September.

I had been right out straight nonstop glazing and throwing the final pieces. When the kiln issue popped up, it changed the itinerary quite a bit. I did a bit more throwing and was able to do a bisque load yesterday since there is no problem getting to cone 04. The kiln even fired in a reasonable time frame.

Yesterday I built a display unit for the festival. It was the christening of my new jigsaw, and I must say, the unit came out pretty good! I got the idea from my artist friend Becky of Dirt Girl Pottery who has been vending her wares for years. I needed a display that could be easily transported and fold up to fit in our tiny economy car. It will probably end up on the roof rack along with the tent, but most importantly, it is something that I can easily lift and assemble myself if need be.

Much of the past two weeks is a blur at this point. I woke this morning at at 3:00 a.m. and am trying to get organized and prepare for the week ahead. Chris and I did enjoy a beautiful meal at our friend Barbara's home a few nights ago. I have complete garden envy. I have been thinking how grand our garden is doing this year, then I saw Barbara's. Wow! We now have something to aspire to. Though, we don;t foresee ourselves launching into the floral/perennial planting - maintenance looks beyond our time restraints. But, we did get some new ideas for the veggies next year. Farmers Shanna and Chris have quite a ways to go!

Bouli and Bello are managing to cohabit with a modicum of civility. Bello still has his limits to how much he will allow his tail to be chased and bit before he growls, but he is making progress toward reclaiming his space and authority. Bouli. Well, she just is the same ol' Bouli. Cute as button and free-spirited. About five pounds now, too!

I think I will get-in an early shower and unload the kiln. I was a bit daring this last load. I three a few pieces, sundried them, and bisque-fired same day. I am curious (hoping!) that the wares made it through safely.

Everyone put out some good vibes for me, if you will, that we get that kiln up and running in good order and that the glaze firings go through beautifully. Much appreciated!

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