Recently I checked out a book by Daniel Rhodes called Kilns: Design, Construction, and Operation. It is pretty old, copyright 1968, but an awesome book nontheless. It has really been an interesting read. It covers the development of kilns, design and construction, operation, and discusses the early kilns. The section on early kilns has been intriguing. It is amazing to take a look at the ways people fired their pots in the ancient Greek and compare that system to the gas and electric kilns we are using today. It really doesn’t get more convenient than a programed electric kiln: just press start and you can get on with other work until the firing is complete. No more standing around, feeding and fueling the kiln or so closely monitoring the kiln’s cycle. Though I will say, some of the most exciting fireings I have done were those that needed close monitoring: raku and wood firings. Those are really exciting, especially when you have a good friend to help you with it. It just feels like you really are involved in every step of a pot’s completion. Plus, it is beautiful to watch the kiln burn at night!
I am still trying to establish myself as a potter and get my own studio going. I will probably start with an electric kiln, but I really want to build my own gas kiln. That would be the ultimate project. Reading this book has inspired me to tackle that project. Though, I think I will definitely need the craftmanship of my father to help me make a nice kiln and ensure that the gas hook-up will indeed work.