Rusty Rosa and Magnificent Millie are two key staff members that we admire dearly and depend on daily. They are a key component to our operations and provide the finishing touches to all of our mugs. They are gentle but fierce, soft spoken yet loud. If they aren’t treated in a respectable manner, disaster can ensue. If either of them are moody or not feeling up to snuff, we lose valuable product. They will notice you if you notice them. They are aware of your presence, and expect to be rewarded.
To keep them happy, we need to offer them a collage of trinkets and continue to offer additional trinkets throughout the firing. Since the ancient times, people have made offerings to their Gods and Goddesses to keep things healthy and well. For us, we understand these ladies are watching us and bare the weight of protecting our product so it’s important that we honor them by offering something.
Who are they? Rusty Rosa and Magnificent Millie are our two Gas kilns. They turn our handthrown, raw art-work into a finished masterpiece and require our constant attention. They are manually operated and one of us must attend and monitor each gas firing from start to finish. These kilns are updraft in design and employ very powerful blower-driven burners, which allows the kilns to efficiently reach the required high temperatures inside (~2300 degrees). Gas kilns run on natural gas and use a process of reduction; What this means is they don’t allow any oxygen during the firing. A reduction atmosphere is created when there’s too much gas and very little air available. In order to do this we need to turn up the gas pressure and use dampers to restrict the flow of oxygen into the kiln.
With this comes unpredictability, but typically produces a product that’s rich in colors and design. There are many variables that can affect a firing and it’s important that we are consistently in-tune to what’s happening and keep detailed logs of every firing. Time, temperature and atmosphere are some of the trickiest to navigate. Even though we have probes to monitor temperature, we need to use pyrometric cones to measure the effects of temperature over time. Even a slight dip or rise of the ambient air temperature inside our studio can affect the outcome of the final product that’s in these kilns. Other variables include, the clay type, glaze mixture, shape of the product, how they’re stacked inside, shelf spacing, Inside studio temperature, outside environment temperature, time of the day, time of the year, gas pressure and many others. Inter-mix these variables and you can see where the help from the kiln goddesses is always appreciated and hence, the “offerings”.
When we first got these kilns they needed some serious TLC. Even so, we were ecstatic to set them up as it meant that we no longer needed to rely on our smaller electric kilns and the help of a 3rd party to fire our glazed mugs.
We didn’t purchase them at the same time. We found Rusty Rosa first, fixed her up, and then found Magnificent Millie. Both ladies happened to be manufactured by the same company, so once Rosa was up and running, we were then able to fix Millie up and bring new life into her.
Over this last year, we’ve continuously gone through trial and error, and look forward to trying new techniques to tweak our products and cut out some of the guess work; It’s an ongoing process but one that keeps us waking up every day. To work with a gas kiln is to have patience, creativity, ambition and care. We take great pride in our work and our finished products are a representation of the mugs we want you to hold and use.