Community Hearth_The BIG DAY!!

The week’s lead up to the big firing was intense – the wood chopping on Monday, putting the horses on the fireboxes on Thursday and low pre-firing on Friday.  So when Saturday morning dawned everyone was rearing to go.  We have some fabulous photos and videos of the day and over the next couple of weeks I will be filtering through them for the exhibition on the 11th, a presentation to WSP members and for this blog and facebook pages.  This takes a fair while as you can imagine so here’s a few photos to keep you happy till then!




















Community Hearth_4 sleeps to go

Too many photos to download at the moment but all is coming together really well.  The fireboxes are built, as are the fibre kilns; the wood has been cut (mammoth task!).  Thursday 25th sees the horses installed on the fireboxes and the kilns assembled around them.  Big, and fraught job.  Friday 26th will be a candle firing to dry out the bricks and drive off and residual water in the clay.  Saturday is the big day!  Only 4 more sleeps to go.  (PROVIDED THE WEATHER IS FABOURABLE.  We can’t fire if the Westerly wind is too strong, or if it’s heavy rain.  Will fire on the Sunday or the next weekend if we need to.)

Linda Ryder, Elsa Lye, Bev McKenzie, Chris Fairley, Susan St Lawrence, Mark Trail, Linda MacLachlan, Sandra Quintal, Yvette Phillips.

Firing Programme

General To Do List

Saturday 20th. Count down begins.

Monday 22nd. Wood cutting day plus the rest.

Wednesday 25th collect Niki from airport; Thursday 26th install horses on fireboxes; Friday 27th candle firing.

Saturday 27th, The Community Hearth firing.






Community Hearth_on facebook

If you have friends and family who use Facebook, here is the link to the this project’s photo albums there:

Potters’ Community Hearth Projects

Please ask your friends and family to ‘like’ the community hearth facebook page – once we get 30 ‘likes’, we get a short URL address (which makes it easier for people to find us on google) and also the ability to get statistical information about the page.  Thanks.

Sandra Quintal 

Elsa Lye

Lynnda MacLachlan

Mark Trail

Linda Ryder

Yvette Phillips

Other people who have recently joined the team to learn about firebox and fibre kiln building are Bev McKenzie, Chris Fairley and Tanya.  Rae Lye and Duncan Ryder have also helped out with the firebox building, kiln making and wood chopping.

Bev McKenzie & Chris Fairley

Community Hearth Wk 13


Linda’s Filly made the move.

The empty banding wheel proves it.

Sandra’s Pony Next


Oh my gosh, it feels so strange for this space to open up again after three months of occupation by the herd.   All ready for the next creative project to come along.

Empty studio!

The horses’ temporary paddock at Lye Farm

Horses in Waiting


Everyone gathered at Elsa’s gorgeous studio (a converted Scout hall) 6km out of town.   The making of the fibre kilns took two shots but they were finished this evening (8th October).  Have a look at the posts Kiln and Firebox Discussions I,  II and III for more details.

Lye Farm: the firing site in paddock just beyond cars; studio to the right.

Third fibre kiln finished!!!

We took a well earned break to dine and discuss plans for the next busy phase – brick cutting, firebox building, wood collecting, cutting and stacking, raffle fundraising at WSP Open Day on the 13th, horse set-up on kilns, and of course – FIRING DAY on the 27th!

LtoR: Chris, Bev, Mark, Yvette, Lynnda.

LtoR: Mark, Yvette, Sandra, Lynnda, in Elsa’s gorgeous studio.

Community Hearth Wk 12


Three Moves in One Day!!!!  Almost too much for the nerves.


Susan moves Henry for Yvette



Linder Rider moves Big Boy



Mark Trail moves his horse (nicknamed Nightmare)



The horses were very carefully driven out to the Lye Farm and put in a room with a dehumidifier so that they will be properly dry for the firing day.

Horses drying out at the firing site.

Community Hearth_Kiln + firebox discussion III

The fibre kilns are completed!!

The least pleasant task of the project has been completed.  Ceramic fibre is not very nice stuff – very much like fibreglass insulation bats.  You need lots of protective clothing, gloves, masks and barrier cream to stop the small fibre hairs itching your skin.

However, with a process in place and protective clothing on, the task can be completed with relative ease.  Especially if there is only one kiln to build.  Bit tough having to do three!!

A couple of more people joined us at this stage to learn about  the kiln and firebox building process – Bev McKenzie and Chris Fairly.  The extra hands certainly came in handy.  Big thanks also to Ray Lye for helping out with the spot welding.  It is not normally needed, wire is fine for tying the walls together, but it helps with cost efficiency if you can get a kiln out of one sheet of reinforcing mesh – made possible by Ray welding stray bits together to make up a roof etc.

It took a couple of sessions, but we got there!  Yay!  And it felt like a major milestone had been achieved.

Fibre kiln building instructions


Elsa and Linda measuring out the ceramic fibre.

Sandra checking the reinforcing mesh for size.

Buttoning fibre to reinforcing mesh walls

Third fibre kiln finished!!!

Community Hearth Team LtoR: Linda Ryder, Elsa Lye, Bev McKenzie, Chris Fairley, Susan St Lawrence, Mark Trail, Lynnda McLachlan, Sandra Quintal, and Yvette Phillips.





Community Hearth_Firebox and kiln discussion II

Size of the horses; this information helps with designing the size of the kilns and also with deciding which horses go into the kiln together.  There will be two kilns with 3 horses in each, and one kiln with 2 horses.

The other decision factor is that some of the participants work full time, so their horses will need to be set up on the fireboxes on a day they can be there.  Monday 22nd Oct is Labour Day holiday, so that works well for Linda, Mark and Lynnda.

That means on Thursday 25th, when we set up the next lot of horses in the kilns, Yvette, Sandra and myself will go in the second kiln, and Elsa and Yvette’s second horse will go in the small third kiln.


Elsa’s horse – 700L x 450D x 1200H

Linda’s horse 800L x 450W x 1220H

Lynnda’s filly: 580L x 400W x ?H

Mark’s horse: 760L x 470W x 1170H

Susan’s horse: 670L x 400W x 1200H

Kiln 1 will now be Linda, Mark and Lynnda; kiln 2 will be Susan, Sandra and Yvette

Kiln 3 is now only Elsa and Yvette’s second horse.

FIREBOX 1 + 2 PLAN:  1500W x 1550D  2nd firebox plan

FIREBOX 3: 1050 W x 1500 D small firebox plan

  • Firebox 1 & 2; 335 bricks + 66 soaps (bricks cut in half longways)
  • Firebox 3:  215 bricks + 44 soaps


  • Fibre kiln 1 & 2:  1500W x 1050D x 1220H.
  • Fibre kiln 3: 1050 Wx 1050D x 1220H.
  • Each kiln needs 3 boxes of fibre – there is 7m of fibre in each box, which costs $92 ie. the fibre for each kiln costs $276.00.

Calcs for fibre kilns


Community Hearth Wk 11, later….

The First Horse is Moved!!

Elsa moved Le Tron out to the firing site.  Moving uncooked clay pieces is always a tad fraught; it is so easy to crack or break something.  But the combined holding-of-breaths paid off, and he arrived out at site unscathed.  It felt very strange to have him gone from the studio; the gap was keenly felt.  However as artists we knew that moving the pieces on to the next step opened up the space for something else to be created in its place.

Community Hearth Wk 11


An evening of quietly getting on with it, finishing heads, focusing on expressions and stability.

Lynnda finishing her pony’s head

Lynnda’s filly

Sandra’s pony

Neck flange angled up more in order to shift the center of gravity and make the head more stable.