I'm declaring this past Art Weekend "semi-successful".
One word to describe the weekend - damp. It rained ALL weekend.
It started out as a drizzle. I wasn't worried. I had checked the weather report. Only 30% chance of rain. WRONG! As soon as we headed to get the sawdust it started pouring.
We held our heads high as we shoveled damp sawdust into increasingly damp garbage bags and reassured each other it was dry enough. We chuckled at the difficulties we encountered with green ware that was dried too quickly. We had full confidence in the still damp patches on the cracks as we surrounded the pieces with "slightly" damp sawdust and organic materials. Faces of determination, damp with rain, moved the fully packed barrel kiln under its shelter (constructed from saw horses, an old bed frame and a large board) and prepared for its firing.
The dampness won. After lots of news paper, kindling, coal, and half a bottle of lighter fluid the kiln stayed lit. 8th time is the charm? A few of us left our fired kiln and headed to the local bar/club. When we returned from some fantastic dancing, 6 inches of soot and ash had to be removed and the kiln lite for the final time. At 10 a.m. it was still going, but our time was up. We removed the few items that survived. Most were broken /or had absorbed moisture from the sawdust and were clay again. We await the return of our creations from the electric kiln.
You may be wondering why I consider this "semi successful". Well, we had FUN! There was great food, wine, laughter and tears, and some of the greatest dancing the Brainerd Lakes Area has ever seen. We successfully made art at the cabin while having a swell time.
Lesson: A dry environment is best when firing a kiln (especially when it is only the second time!).
I'd like to put a special thanks to my mom for taking care of us and cleaning up our mess.