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Things That Go Boom In The Night

Two casseroles blew up in the kiln the other night.  Even though they looked and felt dry to the touch it can only be assumed that a little moisture was lingering in the bottoms.  The pots were 3 weeks old but with all this humidity in my little studio things aren't drying.  They did spend some time sitting outside in the sun (when it's shown itself) sitting on drywall but still they weren't dry enough.  In this weather it would be nice to be able to candle the kiln a bit to help dry out the pots but the power company raises the cost of electricity during the daytime in the summer months so I can only fire the kilns at night.  They do this to help us want to save energy, which I think is very important, but it still makes it difficult to be a potter.

Lidded Casserole pan by Future Relics Gallery
Covered Casserole

My sweet friends at Mudfire said things like, "you're a good thrower, you can make new ones easily."  The thing is I don't find casseroles to be so easy, plus a five quart covered casserole uses a lot of clay.  And time is always a factor since deadlines are always fast approaching.  My friends are right, I will make new ones and I'll most likely do something like run the air conditioning in the studio all night to dry them (even though it's been cool at night).  It's just a bit discouraging.

In other news, it feels like I have a subluxated rib.  I'm putting ice on it, taking anti-inflammatory pain pills, and consuming ginger.  I don't think I'll be making any new casseroles until this feels better.

Have you checked out what the potters on Mudcolony and my blog roll are doing?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. It is so frustrating when work blows in the kiln. Some corollary of Murphy's Law says it will always be the biggest most time consuming pieces that go. Toes crossed that the second time around will spell success.
    I've jury rigged a drying shelf with two heat lamps, an old pasta drying rack and a small fan for exhaust. One lamp is below the rack the other above, both aimed to give indirect heat. You still have to watch you pots so they dry evenly, but it sure does the trick. If I hadn't taken the whole thing apart yesterday I'd send you a photo.
    I got the idea from Haystack where the clay studio has huge drying cupboards. Good thing too; the last time I was there it rained most of the two weeks.

    1. You're so right about Murphy's law. I love the drying cabinet at Penland (sounds similar to that at Haystack) but I don't really have the space in my studio for such things. I suspect the AC would do the trick just as well but a bit slower.
      I'm so glad it's working for you though.

    2. Actually, it might be awesome to have a couple heat lamps in the studio in the winter.

  2. I would be very disappointed as well, casseroles are a lot of work for me... and 5 quarts, that's a big one!
    We are having the drying issue as well. We turn the kiln on for a couple of hours and keep it under 200 degrees, with the lid propped open a little. Since you are firing at night, you could do this the night before you plan to fire. Then when we do fire the bisque we go really slow at the beginning and don't go over 200 degrees until we don't see anymore steam coming out of the kiln.
    Sorry to hear about the rib. I hope you heal quickly.

  3. How disappointing! I always worry about that sort of thing happening when I've made something big. I did have a big bowl explode once...heartbreaking.

    1. Hi Brenda, yes, me too. The size and the weather are why I let these two sit for 3 weeks, too bad it didn't help.

  4. I don't care what it is, I hate loosing things to the big blow.
    I hate that sound too if I am there- pop...and you know what it is- pop- darn it all.
    We do preheat the day before, it does seem to help.

    1. You've got a point Meredith, you put time and effort into something it's not fun to have them blow up. Preheating seems to be the popular consensus here.

  5. oh rats, on top of that, feeling sore????? I just did a first: a hippo bowl and other thicker items had a 30 hour warmup in my electric kiln, just a tiny bit of power and I still worried...bisqued fine, phew!

  6. That sound is something a potter knows with a sinking heart. I heard it the other day but it was a members pot not the sinking heart sunk further. I still feel bad that I blew up his pot. He was very good about it and will most likely make another. Doesn't make me feel better.


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