Sunday, April 29, 2012


Here are the witness cones from the middle of the kiln, second shelf... It looks like they performed exactly the way they were supposed to.  I was very happy to see these.  The kiln is oval in plan view, and some of the other cones I placed in it show that there are areas that didn't quite hit the target temperature.  But from everything I've heard, that isn't that unusual (not a big concern)... just something to keep in mind when I'm loading it.  I was firing to cone 04 (that's the middle cone in the picture) flanked by an 05 (the one tipped all the way down... the guide cone) and an 03 (the guard cone) on the other side.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

kiln god

I was very pleased to see that a kiln god has shown up in my garage this morning. As you can see, it is bearing an appropriate degree of irreverence over the upcoming (inaugural) firing of my pottery kiln this afternoon. I am trusting that he/she will see to it that everything goes smoothly (please) ;)

This firing was actually just a trial run. There wasn't any pottery in the kiln today, just kiln furniture, witness cones, and the small kiln sitter cone. The main objective of this firing was to test the kiln sitter (an automatic shut-off device) and to see if there are any hot spots or cool spots inside the kiln. It was actually a pretty quick firing. From the time I turned the switches on, to the point when the temperature hit cone 04 (a little over 1900 degrees F, probably) only three hours had passed. I was impressed... and surprised. I went out to the garage and saw that it had shut down, and I though something had gone wrong. Then I noticed that the kiln sitter had been tripped, and I looked through the peep hole and the cones that I could see, looked just like they were supposed to look. I think I did a little happy dance at that point (ha). The temperature in the garage rose 8 degrees in those three hours, even as evening was settling in.  At 3:30, when I turned it on, it was 72 in the garage, and it was 80 in there by the time the kiln shut down.  There's some serious heat going on there.  Gabriel will love that during the winter months.  Tomorrow morning I will open up the kiln and check the results. That's when I'll know for sure how it went. THEN... I will be able to fire my first load of pottery! The beginning of a great, creative adventure. Pretty dang cool. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

That's one serious toaster... and it's glowing orange!

Finally, some big pottery news to share with you.  The electrician came out today and wired in the three-position switches on our kiln, and installed a new 50 amp power cord and plug in the garage.  I ran it through a quick heat-up this evening, just to see if everything was working properly, and it looks good!  Over the course of about 15 minutes I notched the switches up, beginning on low  then to medium and on to high, and the elements were glowing like a giant toaster (ha).  Beautiful.  If all goes as planned, this weekend I will do an empty test fire up to cone 04, and make sure the kiln sitter works, etc.  I'm very excited to get underway.  I've got greenware anxiously waiting in the basement.  I can't believe I've actually got a working kiln sitting in my garage!  Yikes... let the adventure begin.  I've been dreaming of this for a long time, and now it's happening.  I'm a happy guy tonight.   

Thursday, April 12, 2012

White Oak

I planted a sapling white oak in our back yard (about 6 to 8 feet tall) in 1999, as a birthday gift to my wonderful wife Pam.  Today it is taller than our two story house, and a very fine looking tree.  A couple of years ago, it actually produced a modest crop of acorns!  This afternoon I came across some pictures of the fall colors that I took last year, and I thought it would be nice to capture the new leaves of another year, as well.  There's an old saying that when the oak leaves are as big as a mouses ear, you can plant your corn... Hmmmm... I think I'm behind schedule.  All I've gotten in the ground so far is our potatoes.  Normally we would still have the threat of a hard frost this time of year, so we rarely even bother to get our tomatoes and peppers and such until late April.  But this year...?  Any time now, really.  It's a little chilly today, but I think the chances of seeing any frost now are all but gone.  That's fine with me.  As I noted in a previous post, from last month, we really didn't have much of a winter this year.  Who knows what that means for summer temperatures, fire danger, insect populations... could be an interesting summer.     

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sock Monkey

The guys in the band, on a beautiful Spring evening.  L to R: Del, Rus, Ellis, Ray, The Professor and Sly.  We had a good two year run, but it looks like we are going to hang it up.  We've agreed to have one more Sock Monkey blowout, to end it.  Don't know where it will be yet, or when... but probably within the next month or two.  In the top picture, Ellis & Ray are holding our twenty dollar bill.  After expenses, we figure that's about what we all ended up with after two years of gigs (ha)... we'll split that between us, of course.         

Friday, April 6, 2012

I had no idea!...

After checking my e-mail this morning, I was cruising around on the web, and came across this blog that looked kinda cool. I spent a few minutes reading some of the posts and looking at the pictures, and then I realized... hey, this is MY blog!?   Apparently I have a blog.  News to me.  So anyway, I figured since I have one, I might as well write something.

Let's see...the tri-fold paper towel dispenser in the office bathroom was empty, so I dutifully refilled it a few minutes ago.  It actually has a key you have to use to unlock it.  I think maybe there must have been a time when paper towel thievery was rampant.  It's nice to know that things have settled down.  I feel safer just knowing that people aren't as inclined to steal paper towels as they once were.  It's a positive sign, I think.  But as they say... locks are there to keep honest people honest.
It's been a busy couple of weeks here (see above note regarding the paper towel dispenser... perfect example).  We capped off the end of March with a Sock Monkey gig at Cartoons on the 30th, which actually went pretty well.  It was a fun night.  An old band mate of mine from back in the 80s, Rick Toombs, had been visiting family in Arkansas, and was passing through Springfield on the way back to Colorado.  He and is wife Rhonda, and their daughter Hannah stopped by the house, and later came out to the bar to hear our band play.  It was good to see them.  The 31st was my sister's birthday (Happy Birthday Diane!).  As is my normal routine for that occasion, I spent a good part of that afternoon flagging down cars on the highway to let them know.  Most of the people I stopped acted like they really didn't care, and frankly were kinda rude about it.  Hmm.
Sunday (April 1st) I played drums at church, in our production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  We've got a good, talented bunch of people in that group, and I'm happy to play with them.  The production went off without a hitch (more or less) and was well received.  Several weeks ago I was handed the task of finding an electronic drumset for the church.  I've been playing drums for close to 40 years, but I really don't know much of anything about electronic drums.  I finally found a nice set of Yamaha's at Guitar Center for well under $1000, which was the hinted budget.   I played those this past Sunday.  They are OK, but I still greatly prefer acoustic drums.  One nice bonus, however, was that when I was done playing I picked up a couple of things from behind the set, and I was out the door.  No more lugging around two hundred pounds of drums and hardware and cymbals in and out of the church for each performance!  That was nice.
So... this is blogging.  Ok, that wasn't so difficult.  Hopefully I will do that again some time soon.  Maybe with pictures next time.  I like pictures.  have a great Easter weekend!  Peace.