Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snow Geese in Seattle

On December 22 I was out walking around in the snow again and came across a group of snow geese in Gas Works Park. Luckily this time I had my camera with me and was able to grab a few shots before the dogs ran them off (don't get me started on this, people in Seattle and there dogs drive me crazy. There is a reason why signs state you need to keep you dog on a leash in the parks.) I had seen the geese the day before but didn't have my camera at that time.

While the geese were in the park it was fun to observe them waddle around sticking their heads in the snow to get at the grass.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snow in Seattle

I drove my wife to work back on the 17th of December, when it really started to snow here in Seattle. It was around 6:45 in the morning, dark with the snow coming down hard. There was no traffic in the city (Seattle is that way early in the morning)which gave me the opportunity to drive her in slowly but surely.

Right before we left the apartment I grabbed my camera to get some shots. And I am glad I did because I got a couple decent shots in the morning. I was even able to catch the SLUT (South Lake Union Transit) in the snow.

After getting back to the apartment, I proceeded to get bundled up, packed all my camera gear and headed out into the snow to get some photos of the Fremont Area. First I went to the Fremont bridge and started taking photos of the bridge and views from the bridge. While photographing this area I actually got to see a beaver swimming around. I wasn't able to get a decent photo of him, because I had the camera mounted on my tripod which was on the bridge and shook everytime a car would drive over it. I had to wait until no cars were on the bridge to take photographs. Even so, it was still exciting to see the beaver. This makes the second time I have seen a beaver while walking over the Fremont bridge in Seattle.

At this time a single crew rowed down the canal. I just have to say that person was FREAKING CRAZY! Made for a good photo though.

After taking photos on the bridge I walked down to West Lake Union to try and take a photo of Gas Works Park in the snow. But by that time the snow was coming down so thick you could barely see Gas Works Park, crazy, just crazy. I then decided to walk over to Gas Works Park and get some pictures up close.

While walking over to the park on the Burke-Gilman Trail I took a couple of snapshots to try and document how much snow was coming down at that time. I took some of the Aurora Bridge, murals, the trail and close ups of the snow on berries.

Once I got to the park people were already there sledding down the hill and just walking around enjoying the snow. I know I was enjoying the snow and taking photographs in it. I think I took a couple of decent shots that day and I got some more a couple of days later when it snowed even more. I will get to that in my next post.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wood Fire unloading

After the wood fire was completed, we had to wait a week to give the ceramics time to cool down. Well only until Saturday December 13, 2008.

Everyone in the class had to drive out to al's place again on Whidbey Island to spend a day unloading and cleaning the kiln. I tried to document the unloading of the kiln as well as I could. I find that this is actually one of the most revealing parts of the whole process. Documenting the pieces in the kiln before they come out gives you an idea and insight on how future pieces can be placed, wadded, and stacked to give you certain flashing, coloring and ash glazing. Especially as you look at your ceramics later on and go back to these pictures to see where they were placed in the kiln.

Again, I had a great time doing the wood fire class and look forward to doing it again in the future, hopefully really soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pottery Northwest Wood Fire

Ahh, the wood fire. It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. My
thanks go out to Al Tenant for letting our class use his train kiln.

As you can tell from my last post, I was the one who got to start the wood fire with my old business cards. Al was so impressed with my means of purging out my old job he even took one of my old cards to pin up in his studio.

Our class had split the 50-hour firing into 5-hour sessions with 2 to 3 people at each shift. The firing started at about 6:20 pm on Friday December 5, 2008. My next shift was to start at 5:00 am Saturday. I had been getting up early for weeks in advance to prepare myself for this.

That Saturday was a great morning shift. We were still using the outside fire hole to keep the fire going but had taken down one section of it. The goal was to keep the fire burning with the temperature only going up 80 to 100 degrees per hour, then to remove the last section of the fire hole and start to have the fire stoked in the train kiln. We were able to get the fire hole totally removed after my shift during the beginning of the next shift.

During this shift we had the most amazing sunrise. I could see it happening and took a little break to walk down to the beach and take some photos. There were clouds above but none on the horizon. Which let the sunlight through to bounce off of the clouds above and create this amazing orange red light. I got some photos of an egret, seagulls, and sand pipers. I was also able to grab a couple of pictures of Al walking his dog on the beach.

Of course it was very cold out there by the beach in Coupeville, Whidbey Island. Especially on that first night/day when the kiln had not heated up enough to keep us warm.

My next shift was for Sunday morning at 5:00. By that time the temperature was up to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. We were loading the big logs into the firebox at that time, and man was it hot. You had to get suited up to load the logs. All natural long sleeved clothing, scarf around the face, welding glasses, welding gloves and a hat. Even then my sweaters sleeves were smoldering after loading a couple of times. At the same time your had to load small kindling through the stoke hole. This gives you additional ash near the back of the kiln.

You want to have ash throughout the kiln because the ash is actually acting as your glaze. Depending on the wood you use you can get different colors. This is why our class was using a Helmers B-mix clay body for a majority of our pieces with the exterior sides unglazed. This clay flashes well in a wood fire. We were firing with Alder wood, which can give you a blue tinge to yellow orange.

I stuck around for a while after my shift was over and took some more photos of people and the inside of the kiln, fire is so hypnotic. I wanted to stick around till the end, but that wasn’t going to be until late Sunday night.

The wood firing for me was a great experience and now I am hooked. I can’t wait to be able to do another one.