Loading was intense, but we got it done, and even managed to start the firing only two days after the date we had decided upon, after having already pushed it back two weeks because I was sick for so long…oh dear. I think for us, this is kind of miraculous. I’m still hoping I can have the work where it needs to be…
Considering everything, packing the kiln was amicable and smooth, actually. I
am becoming increasingly like the wind…
Lee has developed a technique which he employs every time I start to freak out or become seriously irritated, which involves coming up to me and giving me a big and very sweet hug, and telling me how much he adores me, which has been working like crazy. Despite a few hiccoughs, loading happened, and despite the massive mud-hole that had developed in front of the kiln thanks to the rains and the thaw, I managed not to slip and fall while carrying a board of precious work, so that felt like a giant bonus. Things got slightly hairy when the rains came, but that didn’t last long, and the weather has been glorious ever since, and onward into this coming weekend…
Once again, we are just insanely grateful for the help we have received, from Wesley, Sam, Alison, Jen, Luke, Cora and Matte. Thank you so much, all of you.
You have worked so hard for us, and you have tolerated being slashed and shot at (with pistol-shaped hunks of wood, mind you) by Horus who has developed a disturbing affinity for the bad guys in his TinTin comics which I will be discreetly confiscating because he is clearly too young to be able to appropriately compute characters like Al Capone, or Captain Haddock (alcoholic, blistering barnacles, etc.). What were his delinquent parents thinking, leaving the Tintins lying around?
All three kids fell asleep relatively early on the final night of loading, and I was able to come outside and climb into the firebox to place my sculptures, and drink some beer while we listened to music and to the creek singing its spring song, and it felt like a good outside maritime campfire party.
After the official beginning (the fire still outside the firebox, of course), Jen and Luke and Wes grabbed shovels, and started to dig out a trench in order to divert some of the massive amounts of water that was threatening to wash out the hill and walkway.
We marvelled at the dedication of our crew.
When we said our magic words, and fed the kiln some salt and whiskey, and lit the fire, finally, I was actually quite sad that the kids weren’t there, because I don’t think they’ve missed a lighting ceremony yet, but the time was right, and the next morning when I woke up, Horus and Treva had already been out with Jen, the early-morning stoker, for a couple of hours.
On the first full-day of firing, Alison, my beloved friend and neighbour arrived to visit, and she promised to come back later that evening, to stoke through the night.
We decided to do a much longer pre-heat, because while Lee is focused on vessels, most of my work is sculptural, and green, and once-glazed with shino.
So hopefully there won’t be any explosions.
Yesterday, everyone took off, but today I had an emergency visit to the dentist, and we were saved by Cora and Matte who took over stoking duties while I was gone, so Lee could focus on the kids and have a bit of a rest before we switched over to stoking the upper firebox.
This evening after eating supper, the kids and I came down and we hung out with Lee. Horus and Treva piled some wood in the fading light, keen to work and take part in our celebration. Somehow, despite the ongoing efforts we will be making for the next several days, starting the firing is always a great relief. It’s all fun, really, but stoking is just a treat. We’ve made it. We’re here again.
Now, it’s dark and I’m out here on my own. The apple wood is certainly different than Tamarack. It’s heavy and gnarly, but burns silently and slowly, with a hefty, toothy coal. I’ve already knocked over one of my firebox figures, but managed to right it with the rake, and so far, the pieces seem intact.
Around me, the sounds of the night thrum, and I’m about to head in to curl up with the kids, trading places with Lee who has now, finally, had some real rest.
Our kiln is so beautiful. Our work is beautiful. Our children are beautiful. We are so so so very lucky.