Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Entire Kiln Firing of the Apocalypse Stoker Gallery

Well there was fire on May 21, 2011 but thankfully no brimstone. I was pretty bummed when I heard God scheduled the end of the world for Saturday, but I guess he changed his mind. I'm thankful for this. Here is the stoker gallery for the firing of the apocalypse.

First out to help was Ana. We preheated the kiln overnight and I started heavier stoking at 6:30 am. Ana arrived around 8:30. She stoked until she had to go to work at Claymakers.
Wendy used her Popeye like strength to keep the fire going after lunch.

After bringing out pizza and drinks, Emily took this photo as the pyrometer reached 666. Her headline was "Fire-starter Enraptures Stem". I missed getting a photo of Emily myself but enjoyed her coming out post hip surgery and keeping us nourished and motivated. Also not pictured is Darren and Shadow. Darren stoked for a little while before heading to work as well.

Spence lent a hand not only stoking the fire but he also used his construction skills to cut part of the roof that was near the chimney (I have been meaning to cut that off since it was touching the kiln). This had not been done before because we lacked a large enough ladder and the tools to do it. He also came up with a great plan for an inexpensive heat shield that will be in place before the next firing. You can see in the photo below the kiln shed is a little close to the chimney. I've had no problems so far but imagine that after several firings of being exposed to heat it could get damaged (or catch fire easy).

Kyle kept us on pace for a couple of hours. "You need 2 degrees a minute, I can do that. " He did get us ahead by four minutes at one point, in doing so I hope he didn't ruin the pots. Just kidding, he was amazing and I really appreciate him keeping things going while my mental status started to decline.

Bob and Carrie grilled dinner for us, a tradition I think I want to continue for future firings. Yummy jerk chicken wings, the BEST potatoes I've ever had and grilled sugar snap peas.

Stewart came out and took some professional photos. See the entire lot here

Amalia and Elizabeth were out late in the day, helping move wood and eat pizza, cookies, crackers and strawberries. Let's guess which job Elizabeth preferred.

Steven came out after working in the pharmacy for 12 hours and side stoked for a few hours. I hadn't planned on still firing past 10 pm but we went slower than originally planned. I think when I look back I can see where we lost an hour here or there. Next firing though I hope is in the 14 to 16 hour range.

Bob was the right side stoker. He was quite dedicated, stoking at least 8 hours.

Oh yeah, and this guy. Joe helped a little. Little being all week by reconstructing the firebox, hanging the door, building the bagwall, loading pots and probably a thousand other things I'm leaving out right now. Joe is the best, that's all I can say.

What is this? A smile at hour 18? Must be a bit delusional at this point. Thought I was sleeping or something. Just happy we missed the apocalypse in the west coast time zone so most likely we will all live to actually see the pots come out of the kiln.

Amalia was the last person to stoke the main firebox, finishing up around midnight if I recall correctly (may need to check cardboard notes for precise time). Oh, it was 12:15. We fired the second chamber until around 3:15. A big thank you to everyone for their help. It takes a lot to fire a kiln!

And we have a few double entendres that kept us laughing throughout the firing. I started notating them because I knew it was unlikely I'd recall them later.

Wendy to Spence, "I'm giving you 15 minutes to get it up. " (temperature)
Stewart to Bob, " I'm really in to thighs lately." (regarding grilled chicken)
Me to ?, "Grab your own wood. " (this pile of wood is for the firebox)
Me to Amalia and Elizabeth, "If I get too obese we can get a hoe". (stating that if I gain too much weight I will be unable to crawl in the firebox to clean it).


  1. Looks like you had a lot of good help Julie. (and good eats). Don't melt the lens off of your flashlight peeping in.

  2. Awesome, Julie! So sorry to have missed it, but I'll do my best to make it to the next one!

  3. wow, what a crew you had.. hope the unpack is full of great surprises...

  4. Looks like a blast to me! Congrats! I cant wait to see the results.

  5. Hello, I'm a friend of Joe and Christy Cole. Your right, Joe is the best. The kiln looks great congrats!!