Community Hearth_Kiln and Firebox Discussions


Now that the horses are nearing their final size, the fireboxes and kilns can be designed.  Three of the team wish to ‘buy’ a kiln each so that they can own it and continue to use it after the community hearth firing.  This is a wonderful solution for our cashflow, but it does mean that the kiln has to be designed on a modular, easy-to-reassemble format.  The downside of this is that the kiln will not be bespoke for the horses.  Normally the kiln would follow the shape of the sculpture(s) inside to reduce waste space (less air to heat).  The air pockets above the horses haunches may mean that we’ll find it hard to reach 1200.   However, the kilns aren’t that big, so it might not be a problem.

What has been worked out so far is that the fibre kilns need to be 1400 wide by 1000 deep.

The 1400×1000 roof will need reinforcing rod across the top to keep it from sagging and to support the chimney.

The fireboxes (on which the fiber kilns will sit) need to be 1500 wide by 1500 deep.  We’ll make them about 10 courses high.

We still need to finalise where to put the chimney and place the horses so the flame doesn’t shoot straight through, taking the heat with it.

Possible placement of horses kilns 1 and 2

Possible placement of horses in kiln 3. If only 2 horses, the kiln can be smaller than the other two.

Thinking about the chimney and roof of fibre kiln.

Stoking ports and soaps of firebox. (yes, it does make sense to us).

Computing number of bricks needed for firebox.

Trial layout of firebox floor (which will be filled in of course).

Ember bed/ stocking ports will be on next level. Refer earlier sketch.

Trial firebox

Side view of trial firebox

Back view of trial firebox

Coming to grips with time.













Community Hearth Wk 10


The tea break was taken up with organising the FUNdraising night on Tuesday.  There’s been lots of support and donations and we were really looking forward to it, but not sure how many would turn up.  Fingers were well and truly crossed.

The rest of the night was spent working on the horses – Mark and Yvette glazed theirs; Elsa finished off The Tron’s face; Sandra, Linda, and Lynnda had a fairly frustrating night coming to grips with the eyes and muzzle.

Lynnda McLachlan working on filly’s head

Lynnda and Filly

Henry with his glaze on (legs removed for safety)

Linda Ryder and Big Boy

Susan St Lawrence checking out Big Boy

Big Boy

Sandra’s Pony with eye positions

Frustration building around ‘getting the eyes right’!

Eyes achieved, and Pony wrapped up for the night.

Elsa and The Tron

Community Hearth Wk 9


Week 9 was fraught with technical challenges – coping with shrinking and warping bodies, wobbly legs, cracking across the back, heads that grew beyond the centre of gravity – and lots of artistic decision making.  The team bravely managed their anxieties and hung in there.  Not all the issues are resolved yet – we still need to tackle the legs – but everything else resolved itself with time.

Elsa balancing head

Mark in deep conversation with Horse about what surface treatment to give it.

Yvette finishing new head (after ‘center of gravity’ issue last week).

Yvette and Henry.


All important position marks to make reassembly on the kiln shelf easier.

Henry’s legs, glazed, ready for restablising.

Lynnda’s filly awaiting adjusted neck flange to counterbalance head. Legs removed for safety.

Sandra filling stress cracks with paper clay

Changed angle on neck join to correct balance of head.

Community Hearth – FUNdraising Night

18 Sept 2012, 7pm, Waikato Soc of Potters

Cnr Seddon & Ward Sts, Hamilton Central.

Spread the word.  Bring friends and family and money.  There’ll be door prizes, raffles, a silent auction, live music AND the horses will be naked of their newspaper covers so you can see them up close and personal.

  • Besides the naked horses and the students talking about ‘Why They Thought It Was A Good Idea To Sign Up At The Time‘ and their experience so far, we’ll talk about the upcoming firing event and what you might expect to see and experience at the Community Hearth firing on the 27 October.
  • There will be door prizes to be won (including a limited edition illustrated plate by Susan St Lawrence)
  • A fresh food hamper raffle (including the famous bacon and egg pie by Lynnda McLachlan, chocolate cherry brownies by Elsa Lye and much more)
  • Free nibbles and drinks
  • And a silent auction.  Things that you will be able to bid on include:
    • the large, original Susan St Lawrence horse maquette that kicked the whole project off
    • a ceramic art work by Trish Seddon
    • a remedial massage with Kerry, (Dr and Ceramic Diploma student)
    • an hour’s wheel tuition with Yazmin, one of the potters-in-residence at WSP
    • a mixed media collage by Wendy Thompson, the Society’s President
    • an evening’s babysitting by Simone
    • plus many other desirable things

All proceeds go towards funding materials and equipment needed to build the kilns, and setting up the exhibition to be held at Diane Parker’s Gateway Gallery after the event.

Put Tuesday 18th Sept, 7pm in your diaries now, pass on the news, see you there!

Community Hearth maquette by Susan St Lawrence.

Community Hearth Wk 8

03 September 2012

So many photos, so much progress!!  Everyone has finished the horse bodies and necks.  Now it’s on with their heads!  This is proving particularly tricky in some cases – getting proportions that feel right, and look right, for the sculpture.  It’s interesting how just a tweak of an angle or rounding out of a curve can change the overall emotion of the horse.


Linda starting the evening session early – not even sunset yet.

Linda tackling the jaw line and ear positions.

Mark finally breaking free of conventions. Dig those ears!


Lynnda starting the neck.

Sandra adding coil to neck.

Mark and Sandra. Linda in background.


Yvette. 6:52pm

Yvette and toppled head. 7:33pm.
Gotta watch that center of gravity!

Yvette. 7:50pm. After a cup of tea, starting again.

Yvette. 9:36pm

Yvette and Elsa. 9:40pm. Time to call it a day.

Mark packing up (for the night).

Sweet dreams.

Community Hearth Blackboard Musings

Some of the blackboard and table top scribblings.

Horse plan based on South Indian large terracotta horse deities.

Thinking about the firebox and fibre kiln design.

Notes on possible insulation and chimney shapes.

Discussing angles of heads and the all important center of gravity ie. how to make sure your head doesn’t fall off.

Table top discussion about the differences between slip, engobe and glaze.

Coming to grips with time and voting for an extra 5 wks.

The new timeline and firing date: 27 October!!

Community Hearth Wks 7

27 August 2012

I really admire this wonderful group of people;  each person is a delightful mixture of the ordinary and extraordinary, all there for different reasons and facing their own challenges both outside and inside the sculpture studio.  I’ve started to refer to this particular community hearth project as ‘the odyssey’.   Mainly because no matter whether the participants are experienced or inexperienced with clay, they’ve all had to deal with the emotional, physical and artistic trials of stepping into new territory – to continue to keep making through fluctuating levels of confidence about their work, to tackle quite tricky technical problems, to find personal resolve to turn up once or twice a week in spite of being tired from long days of work and caring for family.  A few even have severe osteoarthritis which makes standing on the studio concrete floor for 3 hours far from easy.  Everyone is just awesome.


Yvette getting the flick off.

Elsa’s maquette.


It mightn’t look much, but after spending ages trying to get it right, sometimes there’s nothing for it but to cut it off and start again!