Wali Hawes 1952 - 2014
                          pottery and more!

Pottery Help

I'm often asked for help - and I'm happy to give it. These are some of the questions I have been asked about various things.

Building a Paper Kiln

Hely from Finland asks:

I`m Hely, an artist from Finland, and I have done some pots and figures with the kids as a camp.

I planned to built a wood kiln, but what kind of kiln is safe for children aged 10-14, and how i`m REALLY going to built it ?

Where is the furnace and how the pieces are placed, and how many hours it should be burnt. We have used clay temperatured 920-1040. I have personally used a simple kiln which has built in pit, and I`ve just piled up bricks to form of sguare.

Bottom of the kiln ,surrounded of the pieces, is sawdust. Then litte- woods and top of all bigger woods and I light a fire from top. But always there is broken pieces in my kiln!!!

WHY? I shoud be SO VERY THANKFUL if You could help me and give some answers...Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

Wali Answers:

Dear Hely,

Nice to hear from you and to know of the work you are doing with children.

You have two options. 1 Building a Paper Kiln. Make a base of bricks-like a wall on three sides up to 7 bricks high. On this you place a metal grate which can be just angle iron with iron bars.

On top of this you put old paint tin drums (usually 40kgs size) Inside you put the pots carefully.

You can change the combustion of each can by using different types of fuel-sawdust, charcoal, leaves etc. Like this you can vary the type of atmosphere inside each can, though this is important if you use the Paper Kiln for decorating the pieces rather than just firing the pots.

You can usually put three drums on the grate and then one on top. If you can place a chimney for the smoke. This can be placed on some bricks on top of the can. You then place wood around the drums  and then cover the structure with magazine sheets of paper dipped in slip.

The slip is made from unwanted clay and is creamy in consistency. You should  have at least eight layers. After that start a small fire underneath and  build up the heat very slowly. Say for an hour or two.

After that you can  start a bit faster. There will come a point where the wood around the cans will catch fire. You can control speed of burning by blocking up the stoke hole. After three hours your pots should be well fired.

Make  sure you use clay with some chamotta and talc, or else use a commercial clay body. This will help to resist the  changes in temperature.

Good Luck and don't give up, but try till you succeed.



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