Making a Backyard Kiln for my Backyard Pottery

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In my earlier post on Making Primitive Pottery in my Backyard, I used clay I had dug from my yard and fired it in a pit. While all well and good, I wanted to see if I could do better.

So I decided to make a kiln. I had also purchased a weed burner for burning weeds and melting ice that I thought I could also use as a burner for a small kiln.

According to Marc Ward(http://www.wardburner.com/bturequirements.html), who posted this information in 1996 (which if I remember correctly, I only had 10 free hours of Internet from AOL at the time), I would need 20,000 BTUs on the high end to fire a small kiln up to cone 10.

I had no intention of going to cone 10 with my backyard clay, so I figured my 180,000 BTU weed burner would be sufficient.

Now for the kiln

I made a simple updraft kiln. For supports I used solid hard bricks. I made the bricks for the kiln adobe style.

First I made a mold.
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Then I made a screen. This is just 1/4 inch steel mesh on a wooden frame. I used the screen to sift my dirt.
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Then I mixed the dirt in a wheelbarrow and placed it in the mold. I mixed it to a consistency such that I could immediately remove the mold and the brick would hold its shape. In retrospect, I wish I had been more uniform in my brick sizes. But it works.

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Lastly, I stacked the bricks up into the simple updraft kiln shape.

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I fired a few pieces I made. And low and behold it worked. The burn marks you see around the cracks in the bricks is from me messing around while being bored waiting for the firing to finish. I put sticks and grass and whatever else I thought might burn near places where hot gasses were escaping. I would not recommend doing that. In my next post, I will show you the results.