New Events at Muddy Creek

Progress on the kiln, the studio and the pots.

 


 

 

Artisan Studio Tour Show Nov 12-13

Come see the studio, kiln and the new pottery that just came out of our October firing. Refreshments by local restaurant Basic Necessities. MCP is happy to be joining the well established Artisans Studio Tour for the first time.

November 12-13 10a-5p

Chimney and Connecting Chamber

2014

The next step was the chimney foundation. I designed the kiln with an angled connecting tube that would both serve as a residual burn-off chamber for wood gases traveling through the kiln, and also increase draft by adding elevation before the chimney. This meant that the chimney foundation was built so that the chimney itself would start more than four feet above the kiln floor. This also allowed for a much shorter chimney, a profile that appealed to me.

The chimney pad, 12 inches of concrete, was set on tamped gravel.

Three layers of hot fire brick were added to create a heat barrier to the concrete. The chimney was laid on top of this surface.

The chimney was laid out with an entrance to the connecting chamber on one side and an identical clean out door on the back. This will be bricked in and only opened when needed.

My buddy Jake came by and in one day we got a lot of the brickwork done, raising up the height and adding in holes for passive dampers.

Friends and potters Kelly and Stephanie came down to help out with the kiln and we pushed on through the rest of the height.

With the chimney finished the focus became the connecting chamber. Old clay shelving was used as a floor and the brick walls were laid on top. The only things remaining were now the wooden arch form that would hold the cast material as it set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storm Damage

Spring 2013

In May sudden rains came down the mountainside bypassing the existing trench and undermining the kiln foundation below the firebox, and on the uphill side of the kiln. Enough water in a short time slumped walls in these areas, setting the whole project back months.

A temporary sand-burrito was made with sheet plastic to hold off rains while half the kiln was unstacked and removed.

Lots of dirt was removed and gravel was brought in to extend the French drain up around the kiln. Again friends came in to help. There was so much support it made the seeming catastrophe much less of a heartbreak. It was a sad moment but made me realize how much I still wanted the kiln, all it meant for me both for the work I want to make, and the community who want to fire it.

 

With the rebuilding came the opportunity to make some things a bit stronger. The foundation at the front of the firebox was reinforced and better drainage added everywhere.

Making it Better. A friend with a backhoe came in to make an additional trench above the kiln, as well as to extend the existing one. Great progress in one day, using the right tools.

Rebuilding takes time. While I learned a lot from the drainage problems at the kiln, I also needed some time to take the sting out of every rainfall. Still, many hands turned out to help with the foundation and walls, and slowly things moved forward again.

Finally the construction moved past where it has been before, the ply arch forms being put on in preparation for lathe strips that will support the cast-arch, the roof of the kiln. The arch shape defined, the next steps will be chimney and and the tube connecting it to the main portion of the kiln.

 

Bricks and Walls

Fall and Winter

Walls seemed to come up pretty quickly, at least in comparison with everything else. Most of the used bricks, thousands of them, I ground clean with an angle grinder and built up the walls as I went. Brick laying, one of the most satisfying parts of the process, was a great time to including some of the willing help I have been lucky enough to have along the way.

Kevin Crowe, pottery mentor and friend, came out to lay bricks and talk about design and firing.

   

In february of 2013 I put my fingers on another 1000 bricks, a good haul to finish up the walls and make the chimney and connecting chamber. Once again the troops were gathered and I am reminded of how fast things can move with a lot of people power.

By the spring, walls were finished, bricks gathered for the chimney and connecting chamber. Everything in place to move on to the roof arch and chimney.

 

Foundation and Drainage

July 2012

With bricks around, it was time to get into foundation and drainage. I knew there would be drainage issues from the beginning, so had the downhill side of the kiln dug out in preparation for French drain.

The foundation was a lot of fun--a simple change of action from taking dirt away, to putting gravel in, made all the difference. I began leveling things out for the two floor heights, the main chamber and the firebox below. Both with tamped gravel, on top of which I placed a small amount of sand to ease in leveling before adding brick.

I decided to put a couple of layers of brick under the firebox to help support the rest of the structure, it being on the downhill side, and to better insulate the firebox.

After that, firebox walls started to come up quickly.

The main chamber of the kiln, though directly connected, was designed a little differently from the ground up. Unlike the firebox, I knew I wanted a sand floor. This would be more comfortable for loading, and save on bricks. I put a thin layer of sand down over the tamped gravel and then built a 13 1/2 wide foundation wall underneath what would be the narrower (9 inch) chamber walls to better support the kiln weight.

 

Bricks from MD

April, 2012

In the spring of 2012 I found a source for bricks in MD, a kiln that had to be taken down. I jumped at the almost 3000 bricks available. They had been salt fired, but most were still serviceable, including a few hundred super duty bricks that had been sleeping peacefully in the chimney.

We took the kiln apart brick by brick with rubber mallets, to separate without breaking the bricks. We camped out by night and hauled by day. With the help of friends, and a borrowed trailer that could hold 1000 bricks at a time, I brought all the bricks south over the course of three trips.

It was fun going up as a group and working together. As has been the case at several points during the building. I am touched by both family and friends that were ready and willing to help, and drive so far to do it. These bricks form the biggest part of my kiln. They make it possible

Progress on the Kiln

April, 2011

This spring, with the help of family and friends, the kiln shed at Ponton Lane started to take shape.

 

We dug the post holes, fifteen of them and started to put up the rafters.

June, 2011

I put the recycled roofing on in sheets and nail it down.

Summer at the kiln shed-- the digging of the foundation begins and continues on slowly as I fill the old pickup truck and empty it in the woods. While standing in front of the future firebox I can feel the heat already.

Fall, 2011

I am marking out the walls of the kiln. Here, the trenches will be deeper, the dirt tightly packed under the gravel and sand that will cushion the foundation.