Sunday, December 5, 2010


Took these photos around 3 pm. After the -35 C it looked like we had freezeup coming along nicely. Then one of those huge storms from the Gulf of Alaska moved our way. The temperature went up to 0 C and the winds howled. Some of the ice held, but there is going to be quite a mess at the edge. The sound is amazing, all that bashing and crashing of the ice chunks.
Cooler weather is on the way....won't take long to refreeze and hopefully stay that way.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Guess It Is Winter

We had to go to Whitehorse on Wednesday to deliver the first part of the hat order. We saw these three caribou on the road on the way in. I have been seeing them closer to home. At night of course! Luckily they have a nice big white patch that reflects light. I donèt care how many people complain about my slow driving, you sure don't want to hit one of these guys. Woodland Caribou are BIG. And really stupid too. If they are in the ditch they like to jump up on the road right in front of you. And if they are in the road they like to run down it instead of getting off.
It was getting colder when we got home and bottomed out at -35 C on Thursday morning.

Friday, November 26, 2010

After Firing, The Clean-up

After the ash has settled and the pots removed there is still a big job for a wood-firer. Cleaning up the kiln and kiln shed. This time I have to remove the sand from the bottom of the kiln because it is so full of melted ash that it is stuck together. It protects the floor of the kiln from glazing. There are wads to pick up and the worst part, shelves to clean. They weren't nearly as bad as last time. Start with a sharp chisel use the angle grinder as needed. The truck load of wood is now down to a five gallon pail of ash. The ash will be spread in the bush and the wads and sand become fill beside the shed.
No photos from the last firing....cleaned the pots up and off they went to a sale last Saturday. Sold almost all of them so won't be going to the sale this weekend, not enough stock! No time to make any more pots this season either. The dog fur hat factory is now back in operation.
Once the kiln is all cleaned up and the shelves are clean and washed it will be time to go out in the bush and get wood for next Spring.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beating the Cold and Snow

It was supposed to snow today and then get -30 by the end of the week. No snow today and a very manageable -1. This evening I see that they are only calling for -22. Not that bad either.
Had a pretty pleasant firing. That is if you think staying up until midnight and getting back up at 4 am is pleasant. Being out in the dark was a bit of a bummer, did have a trouble light on with a VERY long extension cord. Usually I am firing in the Spring and Summer when it is daylight all the time. Anyhow it is all over now but the waiting....
Ken cut the ends off some pieces of wood I had cut about an inch too long. Don't know how that happened. Much bad language when I found out they wouldn't fit...flames coming up etc. etc. then trying to get the wood out. yuck.
Okay. I hope I'm not the only one who likes to see the flames coming out of the chimney. All wood firers are pyros, it is a given. You know who you are!!
Will post some photos of the results later in the week. At least three days before we can open up. If it gets -30 maybe sooner. Total time of firing 8:30 Saturday evening to 6 pm Sunday. Left the mouseholes open for another hour while I made dinner to cut down the coal bed. Worked well.
I had some human guests and two avian guests. A very large Hairy Woodpecker landed on the chimney for a second before he took off. A Northern Three-toed woodpecker did a very through investigation of my wood looking for bugs. He was about two feet away and I got a really good look.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Work and More work

Back from my latest adventure to the lower 48. Time to get back to work! Just finished four days of pit-firing in my two trashed wood stoves. They work much better than a pit in the ground. Because they are lined with soft brick they hold the heat better and it is much easier to get the temperatures needed for good and consistent colour development. Out of 48 pots fired 46 were good to sell. One cracked and one got a piece of the ratty stove dropped on it....of course it was a large bowl, now on the shard pile.
Spent the afternoons glazing a load for the wood kiln. This afternoon I made the wads and glued them on. Every square inch in my shop is covered with pots. Tomorrow I get the pots from the firing I did before my trip ready for a sale on Saturday. Saturday evening load the kiln and start the fire....guess what my plans are for Sunday, beginning at 4:30 am???? Not to mention the 110 hats just ordered....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bears? Who would have guessed?

When I go outside the first thing I do is check for 'wildlife'. My trusty dog Cassie is first out and she lets me know who else is out there. She has a major hate-on for bears......we think she was a Karelian bear dog in another life. It is just an assumption you make, living in the bush, that a bear could be outside your door. Usually they aren't, however the possibility is definitely there.
In the last couple years these bear warning signs have started to appear. Some of the new people call the Game dept. every time they spot a bear! They must think they are downtown and this is someone unusual for a bear to walk along the road. There have also been reports of one of them demanding that they try and relocate the bear! Hate to tell them, THIS is the bear's home and you are the invader. If you are respectful to them and don't call them into your yard with your mess they are more than willing to leave you alone. And for the ones who have other ideas, that is what our guard dogs are for.
A couple of images of the changing Fall colours. As we go South it will become Summer again. When we get home it will be Winter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jessicaès Birds

Here is Ken's comment....''They look better than they do in the pictures". i agree! Wish I had more time, would have made several different pairs to choose from.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pots from Latest Firing

Not really set up for nice photos of my pots. Just quick snap shots. Really happy with them all. The one really crusty gut fell off it's brick right into the edge of the firebox and got lots of everything! A bit of quality time with the flapwheel should smooth out some of the rough spots. Kind of wish I was staying around the next couple of weeks and getting ready for some more firing fun. Next one hopefully in October.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Wait Begins

Finished up at around 8 pm. last night. Started the campfire in the bottom of the kiln at 9 pm. the night before and filled it up with wood every half hour until 11:30. Shut the damper and went inside for a couple of hours of sleep...big joke, too excited about the firing too have much shut-eye! Alarm rang at 4:15. There were some coals still burning so filled her up and off we went. The bottom opening is covered with an old door I got off a wood stove until I change to firing on the hobs.Then I put in 6 bricks and clam it up so no air can enter. Hobs are brick shelves inside the firebox that hold the wood above the coal bed. You have to have a really good hot coal bed before the wood ignites on the hobs. Once you do it is pretty cool to hear the wood explode and the flames get sucked into the kiln and then out through the chinmey!
When it is still dark there isn't much I can do between stokes except stare into space and think about what other jobs I should be getting done in the garden. Once it gets light I can read, drink tea and yesterday, work on a sweater order that is very late.....the hardest part of the firing is just waiting for the kiln to cool. Three days and I get to look at my work! Sure hope I didn't knock any pots over this time.....last time I lost the best 5 pots. They ended up all glued together with melted glaze where they were touching.
Didn't get as hot as the last time, which was grossly over-fired. All wood firers love to brag about how hot they've managed to get their kilns. Yes, getting to cone 12 and holding for 12 hours is really great! No, glaze all over the shelves, slumped pots and wasted wood is NOT! Anyways, let the waiting begin.......

Friday, September 3, 2010


Here in Tagish almost everyone is suffering from berry picking fever. This time of year we pick everything we can find, even if we don't really need it. The conversation is all about berries, how many you've picked, how thick they are (or aren't) without disclosing your favorite location. Being a bit bolder than some of my neighbors I pick pincherries that are planted as landscaping at a government building in Whitehorse. We juice them and then can the juice in quart sealers. This year we have picked over 40 lbs. Some yucky cold day in Winter I'll go out and make jelly with my canned juice and think about this nice warm and productive Summer we just had.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's a Dirty Job, but Somebody has to Do It

Finally we have had some rain and the ground is now damp again. That means getting my kiln cleaned up and ready to fire. First on the list of undesirable jobs was cleaning the shelves. In an electric kiln you only have to do it if you have a runny glaze. At school I make sure that NEVER happens. Anything questionable goes onto clay 'cookies' that catch any drips. However..when you are firing with wood the ash becomes an airborne glaze that lands on everything. Of course that is why your pots turn out so great, but it also makes a huge mess of the shelves. Last time I got the brilliant idea to use some Aspen wood, a noted ash maker. Pots were outstanding, even got a dragon's eye pot ! The shelves were another story. Of course going to cone 12 instead of the usual 10 didn't help.
Enter my trusty angle grinder and a sharp chisel and a rock hammer. Safety glasses and the respirator for the dust. It only took about an hour and a half, but couldn't do it before because the grinding causes sparks and there is lots of dry grass around that could have caught fire. After the shelves are clean of glaze drips they have to have a good coat of kiln wash. This is a really refractory mix of kaolin and alumina that sort of helps protect them. Now we are good to go.
Next task was taking all the ash out. Did that. Then taking out the old silica sand on the floor. It also gets hard from all the melted ash, but does a really good job of protecting the kiln floor.
Brought out a bunch of pots and washed them. The glaze will 'crawl' if there is any dust on the pots. Tomorrow is glazing and loading. But before I can load I
have to make wadding.
Wads are used to separate everything, otherwise it would all get stuck together from the melted ash. You use kaolin, some alumina and sawdust dampened with enough water to hold them together without crumbling. You make little balls for the pots and big ones for the shelf props.
This really sounds like a lot of work just to get some pots fired! Wood firing is more work, but more fun too!
The last photo is of the cone packs drying out on top of my wood cookstove. For a treat I put up the spoonholder made for me by one of my best students. Actually he didn't make it for me....a leg fell off and he was going to ditch it in the trash but decided to give it to me instead. It is of a road kill crocodile with the visible tire tracks on the stomach!! That kid has a cool sense of humour.