Another day another firing

Today was a marathon.  Taught in the morning, raku’d in the afternoon.  It was the last day of teaching my glass class.  Usually, we have a party and do no work, but this time it was only a 4-week course so I put out all the glass and let them rip.  They were like glass factories, I could hardly carry everything they assembled to my studio to fire.  I have a feeling I’m looking at about 4 or 5 loads.  By next Tuesday?  OMG, I hope so.  The good news is that the spoils from Sunday’s glass workshop have been fired, ground and delivered.  One item to tick off the list.

Meanwhile, I raku’d a Lola urn.  Lola was a very beautiful dog owned by Ann, who really really loved her.  She hired me to make an urn to contain her ashes, using some of them as bone ash to a glaze recipe, which just so happens to be Steve’s Blue Raku Patina, and that means, raku.  Ann gave me carte blanche to create an urn.  She sent me a picture of Lola and she told me to have fun because that was what Lola was all about.  I made an urn that was pretty representative of her head, but Ann wanted to go with one of my more classic wheel thrown urn shapes, so I did, so in this case she’s getting two.

I dragged trusty Beato outside and set her up and turned her on before I left for school, then come 4:45 it was ready to pull.  Beato is great because I can do just one urn and a lid and be done and cleaned up by dinner time.  Everything went really well except the lid touched the urn body in the reduction can and they stuck together.  THANK GOD I was able to separate them without any breakage.  PHEW.  Oh and did I mention it was forecast to storm the same time I was supposed to pull?  But all went very well!

I dragged Beato back in the minute she was cool enough  and now she’s got the “head” urn inside for a fast cone 06 commercial glaze fire. What a wonderful little work horse. May the force be with us!  Tomorrow is a glass day in Elmo, the Skutt  1027  and probably the next, and the next and the next…)  such is life as a kiln wrangler in the kiln rodeo!  I’m really really tired, a tad sore and a bit smelly, but whenever it got hard I remembered that when I was tearing my hair out at my desk job in NYC or on the table having surgery or getting radiation treatments when I had cancer, what kept me going was that someday I’d have days like this.  FABULOUS!


The human kiln sitter


Doing the devil dance


Target temperature, ready to pull


Into the reduction can


Don’t drop the lid!


Adding paper


First “burp”


Second “burp”


Lid and urn fused together in the reduction can


Carefully separating them while still hot









Spraying with water to bring out the colors









Ready to be dunked









Cooling in the water bucket


4 thoughts on “Another day another firing

  1. kinneret says:

    Your work is beautiful. I am interested in starting to do ceramic tiles for a fireplace (have never used a kiln before, am looking into getting a small one). Can you tell me what your trashcan fire was for? Also, you mentioned the 40 degrees. Does it not work if you have colder temperatures? Thank you.


    • Lisa G Westheimer says:

      Hi! Thank you for your interest in my blog! The trashcan fire is caused by taking the red hot ware out of the kiln when it’s around 1830 degrees F and placing it in the can which is filled with torn newspaper, sawdust or other combustibles. It’s part of the raku process. Don’t buy a kiln or try this process without taking an intensive in the process first. There is an element of danger to it and due to the volatile nature of the process and thermal shock involved usually special clays are used and the glazes are designed for this process, usually involving chemicals to produce metallic lusters and shrinkage rates to cause crackles. Learn about the process before trying to make the tiles! To view the process in video go to my website and click on videos then “Making Sunbabies.” Good luck and have fun!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kinneret says:

    Thank you, Lisa. I’m sure that is sage advice! I’ll probably try to take a class in yonkers. Your work on Etsy is beautiful. Next time I’m in the market for a gift, I’ll check out your site.


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