The whole fam-damily loaded up this morning to accompany me on a trip to EMU, to help out with the wood firing.

It was a grey day but not too chilly, and most of the trees stripped bare along my now familiar expanse of highway. We arrived to find Diana and a student stoking the wood kiln, and she said I could go ahead and unstack the salt kiln which had been fired off the day before. Connor put on some kid-sized work gloves and helped me unstack the door.

This was the first salting of the kiln we build last summer, in that weekend workshop and gourmet eating marathon at Diana’s. It was really exciting to see what the salt had done, which spots had the best reduction, and how Diana’s million glaze tests came out. I had a big Anatolian jug in there with a temmoku on the top half, and a small “carrot amphora”. The best little bowl in the kiln was the one that fell off the shelf and landed behind the bag wall between the burner and the salt port. ;0)

The big fun was stoking the train kiln. Jeff said on the way home that it’s amazing how much he learned today just watching (though in fact he was put to work, hauling kiln shelves, stoking in the big side door, pulling out bricks for Patrick to empty the ashes, and whatever else needed doing.)

I have been intimidated in the past by this kind of firing because, while my electric/oxidation kilns seem so straightforward, I didn’t feel like I knew the “right” way to fire wood (or salt, or gas) no matter how many books and clayart posts I read.

I’m beginning to learn, though, that there’s not one right way, and there are so many variables that even the old hands are relying on instinct, guesswork, experiment and luck. Patrick, Mary, Jay and Jonathan had theories and advice… Reem brought baklava. (gotta love Reem.) The pyrometer goes up, stalls, loses, goes up… the kiln sucks, then blows, the damper tweaks in and out, but mostly we had a wonderful time trying to make the temp numbers do what we wanted them to. I would give anything to know how the firing ended after we left, but I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Even longer to see the pots.

Right now I smell like a campfire, and I need to go to bed. Jeff leaves early for work and I’ll be gone to school when he gets back… I’ll see him late Tuesday night, and then he leaves early Wednesday to deer hunt in Connecticut with his family for the rest of the week. I miss him when he’s gone but I also stay up late on line, rearrange furniture, and otherwise shake up the normal daily routine while he’s away.

“OK, kids, it’s Cheerios for supper again, mom’s gotta make some pots!”