Liz Berry Kiln Rebuild and Relocation

Hello everyone!  The countdown for the thesis continues, and since things at the studio are partially in kilns currently being fired, I thought I'd give an update on the Liz Berry Kiln.  It's been a long process, but we're making some great progress under the direction and coordination of Diana Berry!  The second chapter is being written and we're rebuilding this piece of Fairbanks history at the Fairbanks Folk School.  

Taking the kiln down, brick by brick.  First to go was the chimney.  Almost all of the hard brick was re-usable so they were put on pallets for easy transfer to the new site (which is so conveniently located a few minutes away!)

Down she goes!  Most of the soft brick just crumbled as it was being taken down.  The floor (which were shelves, surprisingly made it though the 103rd firing, but didn't last five minutes when we were taking her down!).  Sadly the majority of the soft bricks were designated for the fill dirt pile.

So we begin with a plan and a model (made by the ever so amazing Stan).  Stan was there for the original build in '77 and has been an enormous help in the second phase of this project.  

And so the rebuild begins! The kiln's design is based on the original plans (and the wood kiln plans found in Fred Olsen's "The Kiln Book") with a few modifications.  Most of the bricks that we're using have been generously donated by local fellow potters--so we have some 3.5" soft brick and some 4" soft brick, hence calculating and thinking on our feet to ensure true structure for the body!  True to the model, a concrete foundation was poured, a layer of cinderblock laid out (to elevate the fireboxes so we don't have to crouch down to stoke--save our backs!), a layer of insulating brick between the cinderblock and firebox, the floor of the kiln (which are two kiln shelves and the last thing we put in), the body of the kiln, and the chimney. The firebox and chimney will be built using hard brick, the body out of the soft brick.  

Getting the firebox laid out.  One slight modification to the firebox are the small ports (to allow additional air in the kiln to increase the draw--like super mini dampers).

Measure twice build once!

As we lay the bricks out, we ensure that we have nice straight walls by leveling them, from the inside and tapping

Now that we have the body of the kiln all in place, we need to get our iron frame welded in place.

The sparks were flying! We have angle iron around the kiln acting as a supporting frame.  

Planning the arch with the aid of the book and the model, of course!

We had to cut a few to ensure a perfect fit for the arch.

We have our form in and ready to build the arch--brick by brick.

Our fearless leader, Diana! All ready for the final row of number 1 arch bricks!

The arch is done! Now the fun part..pulling out the form which is supported by four posts with a small block of wood on each for "easy" removal.  

And then it snowed..The next step was to build the chimney.  Each hard brick was dipped in fireclay to help seal of the stack.  

Since these photos have been taken, the chimney has been completed and a few minor adjustments have been made.  We're in the process of affixing together soft bricks for the door of the kiln.  The Folk School held a "Pinch Pot and Pizza" party to get community members involved with the school and this exciting kiln! A huge thank you to Diana for all the hard work and effort she's put in to re-building a part of her family legacy and sharing the passion for the wood fire process with the community! The first firing is planned for mid-November, stay tuned or sign up to help out!