Clay Studio

Clay Studio

Setting concrete blocks

We set the (8" x8"x 16") concrete blocks in mortar.  They go around 3 sides, with the chimney at the back.  The walls of the kiln will be built on top of these.  We were careful to level each block, and allow a brick width of space between the top of each block, and the middle layer of soft brick, to create the lower ledge for the car to slide along.  The accuracy of this is vital to building a straight, tightly sealed kiln.

Floor of kiln

The 3rd, and final layer of brick is set on the soft brick, leaving a 2' ledge around the periphery.  This allows for the door to slide into the kiln, closing tightly.  Shelves and pots will be placed directly on top of this layer of hard brick.  We are now ready to set the concrete blocks with mortar.

Laying brick floor

After the steel car is built and set on tracks, it's time to lay the floor.  First, we put down a piece of Durock, then a layer of hard brick.  On top of that, a layer of soft, insulation brick was placed so that it tapered inward toward the front of the floor.  This allows for the car to slide in and out of the kiln, easily.  In order to do this, the middle bricks needed to be cut to size.  Note the slight angles of each of the center bricks in order for everything to fit snug.

Car on Wheels

Now the car sits even on top of the angle iron on the concrete slabs we poured.  Next step is to start laying the floor of the kiln with 3 layers of brick.  First layer is hard brick, then insulated soft brick (k-26), then hard brick.

Building forms for extended tracks

We ran into a glitch with the concrete slab.  It’s imperative that the tracks lay level in order for the pots to stack evenly and the car to slide into the kiln, straight.  Therefore, we had to build 2 forms to pour some heavy duty vinyl concrete on top of the original slab in order to level out the tracks.  Once they set, we'll lay the angle iron on top, then the steel car.

Attaching wheels

Wheels are attached.  They are what's called v-groove wheels.  Real heavy duty.  They will sit on top of the angle iron and roll real smoothly along the tracks.  Now we need to mount them on the tracks for rolling in and out of kiln.

Starting the project

This week I started building a propane, car kiln at my studio in Weaverville, NC, just 10 minutes north of Asheville.  The design was created by a friend of mine, Tom Turner. Tom is an established, talented ceramics artist, and he has generously agreed to build this kiln with me.  I chose to build a car kiln because I am creating these very large guard dogs (komainu) and would not be able to load them into any other type of kiln.
Thanks to the generous support of a friend, Steve Ferrari, I am able to begin phase 1 of the kiln project.

First thing to build is the steel car.  Tom welded the angle iron to the side pieces of channel iron.  Next, the v-groove wheels will be attached, and then we lay the car level on the ground to prepare for mounting on tracks.