Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sorry, No Barrel Firing

Things just don't seem to be going my way. Yesterday was cool and dry with high clouds. Early in the morning I called the Air Pollution Control District phone number and the recording said "Today has been declared a no burn day below 3,000 foot elevation". Today it is raining steady, the Air Pollution Control District recording said, "Today has been declared a no burn day below 3,000 foot elevation".

Now Gary's telling me I only have a paltry amount of pieces to fire and is wondering if it's really worth firing a whole barrel for just these few pieces. Maybe he's right. I am so disappointed. For the first bisque firing at school I only had a few items ready and eight of those were my leaf panels which aren't suitable for a barrel firing. Most of the other items I completed I'm firing in the gas kiln because I'm also doing a glaze experiment. For the glaze experiments, I need a separate pinch bowl for each one. So that uses up the rest of my bisque pieces.

Since I only have a few pieces, I thought I could place each one in it's own aluminum foil type saggar with different ingredients in each foil saggar to see what the results are. I only have two pinch bowls, two mini-mini bowls (1.5 inch diameter), five sage leaf pendants, and three dusty miller leaf pendants. Is that enough to do a barrel firing? Should I do a barrel firing in the rain?

It seems I am trying to accomplish too many experiments at once. But how can I learn if I don't try them all - and as soon as I can. What do you think? Should I wait till I have more pinch bowls to fire in the barrel or should I just go ahead with a small firing?

Today, I even tried to talk Gary into firing the barrel near the edge of the barn but he wouldn't go for it. So tomorrow we (I) will (should) definitely be having a "BBQ" in our blue barrel. I realized we have some food which might spoil if I don't use it immediately - Right? Right! I know "BBQ's" are allowed. More later, or hopefully, more sooner than later.

Here's rose number thirty-two. Do you know the name of this rose?


  1. Hi Linda,I can't help you with your barrel firing dilema, but I was interested to hear how you ring to find out about pollution, before you fire. I live in South Australia and like California we have extreme bush fire alerts and fire bans over the summer. I haven't fired my gas kiln for over ten years as I usually use my electric kiln these days. I want to fire it again but it's too costly to get it approved again as the TTG club has just gone through that exercise and would have a bill of some $6000 but I was intrigued by you having to check about pollution so now wonder if we have a similar requirement. Sorry I am just musing on your site and have been no help to you at all. I really like the spotted cup on your blog.Good luck,Judy

  2. Hang in there Linda. I'm just getting back into clay and don't seem to have a "robust" enough production myself for all ideas in my mind. I also have soooo many things I want to try but it seems never enough clay pieces made! At least we have enthusiasm :o) Have faith that our desire will pull us through but patience will pay off.

  3. Hi Linda,

    I will be interested to see how the pieces eventually turn out when you do the barrel firing. I did a very small firing and got some great colorations several years back. I used one of those metal tins that popcorn is sold in around the holidays. Punctured some air vents in the upper 2/3 and kept feeding it for a couple hours.


  4. Hi Judy, it's winter here now so that's the only time I am able to fire a barrel, but air pollution is another agency other than the fire which can say whether you can burn here or not, I think when there are high clouds the smoke is trapped in the atmosphere so we can't burn, if it were clear the smoke would disappate. My sister-in-law lives in Perth and is an oil and water color artist and has a studio with two other artists, she is Gail Starr Leidich. Your sculpture is beautiful, what a monumental process that must be. Good luck for your proposed next project. So sorry about all the devastating fires in your country, so very sad. Too bad you haven't fired your gas kiln in that long, I just love the colors and unpredictability of reduction - but $6,000 - way too much money. thanks so much about the spotted cup and please visit again.

    Hi Cindy, I have many other pieces but most are too fragile for barrel firing, I guess I am going off in too many directions and not all of them are organized enough. Perhaps the air quality restricitons were a blessing in disguise today so I can amass more pieces for it. I feel the same way so many ideas and not enough pieces for each idea, I am trying to overcome and plan this more, so far I am doing better than I have in the past.

  5. Hi Diane, I have one of those tin cans on my patio, but it is red and not sure what it is made of and Paul Wandless book says not to burn them if they are made of zinc. I may dig a small pit tomorrow the same diameter as a barrel and about two feed deep and try in that hole to see what will happen. I guess I am impatient to try since I have been planning on it for so long. I also have a lot invested because of all the "stuff" I have had to acquire to do this. We shall see within the next week or so. I shouldn't really be complaining since we are getting more of the rain we really do need here in California.

  6. Linda--I like the idea of doing a smaller firing--like in a smaller metal trash can. But, pit firing is really cool too :)

  7. Hi Linda, I just discovered your blog when I was getting some posts ready for the Beads of Clay Blog. I have your blog scheduled for later this week.
    I wrote a number of posts on pit and barrel firing when I first started blogging. You might find them interesting. Here is the link:
    There are several posts about this. I still have plans for doing more. I had found some smaller cans that were not zinc that I used. I have also used popcorn cans for raku and I don't think they are zinc but I am not sure.
    I am looking forward to what you create. Great visiting you.

  8. Hi Ben, as soon as it's light I'm going to check that small red can and see if I can tell what it is from and I may have to buy some ready made popcorn. I do want to try the pit too. Paul Wandless book has so many great ideas in it and even Gary is reading it. Once he reads something he can remember it and he starts telling me about the process. I am hoping I can get him into clay in this round about way he he.

    Hi Mary, welcome. I will check your link. I've watched your You Tube videos on raku firing beads; they are great. Lately I've been concentrating on larger work. I still make the pendants to fill in around larger pieces in the big kiln. I'm the only one who does and there's always room to put more pendants. I'm anxious to try this pit firing for pendants; I'd like to incorporate some nto some of my larger pieces. What's this about scheduling my blog, I guess I better check in. thx.

  9. Linda, I'll write more soon, but on Saturday during our barrel firing, I wondered about whether yours would happen and wished that CA was closer! Go for it... doesn't matter how many pieces. Do it! The effects are pretty neat.

  10. Hi Amy, you're right, perhaps I shouldn't put all my eggs in one basket - all my wares in one barrel - in case I make a mistake or something, then I'd really be disappointed. Gary went to work this am but it's really wet and they may send him home - if they do we'll try today. He really wants to be involved and I want to wait for him since this is something we can do together which makes it much more fun, than by myself. Now I see I could never plan a group firing here since I never know in advance if we are allowed to burn - unless I get a second hand weber BBQ and do a small firing in one of those. I think I'll keep my eyes out. I just need to keep a few bisque pieces on hand and the ingredients ready for when we are allowed to burn and do as many as I can before summer weather hits.

  11. Hiya, Linda,
    Was sorry to hear the burning ban is still affecting your plans. Actually, there was a burning ban in Charlotte for the first 2 or 3 of our firings. We still did them. (But don't tell anyone!)
    I've gotten some very nice results using a small trash can. Not a lot of colour but some gorgeous (to my mind) browns, creams, grays and blacks. No holes in that can either and the firing is much faster.
    As for waiting for a large number of pieces before you do a big barrel, I probably wouldn't. The cost to fire is really minimal, barrel-speaking. Put a few in, add all the goodies you've been collecting and go for it! Put a saggar or two in the mix if you like.
    The firing is such a joy & is always -- for me -- like Christmas. You never know what the package will reveal.
    These are only my suggestions and please understand that I'm still a HUGE novice at this. But I look at pretty much everything I do as a test tile & an experiment.
    I wish you much luck whichever process you choose.
    (I'll watch for you with the quints)

  12. I've never done a pit or barrel firing, I love the look, but hate the smell. Don't like to do raku either....

    We also have regular fire bans (including wood burning fireplaces) here in Denver due to pollution.

    I can't wait to see and hear about what you decide to do.

  13. Will be great to see how the blue barrel firing goes when it happens. Hang in there! What Becky said is so true.... Barrel firings are wonderful and well worth it. Even one piece is worth a firing in my world. The small ones are good too. Peace,

  14. Hi Becky, I wanted to burn anyway, but air quality can fine us and we really don't want to pay. I checked the little red can on the patio and it doesn't say what it is. I have a grate for the big one so I think I'll just try it this time, hopefully tomorrow. I think I pretty much decided to just do a few in case something goes wrong. I would hate to have a barrel full of broken pots. Gary pulled the barrel out of the barn for me, so hopefully it's a go for tomorrow.

    Hi Cynthia, I'm going to try tomorrow if it's ok to burn. We get so much wind, I don't think I'll have any smell to speak of. Paul Wandless book is full of such wonderful pots, I cant' wait to try this as many times as I can before summer's hot weather hits.

    Hi Amy, I think I decided to just go for it, but I understand the Air Quality Resources Board can give tickets that are expensive, so I hope tomorrow is ok to burn. Got my fingers crossed. Gary will just have to wait for the next one to participate.

  15. Hi Linda,
    You are scheduled for 2/25. I am linking folks to your fern post which was the current post when I wrote the blog. A great post.


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