My new kiln – David Walters.
Having done a short apprenticeship with Tim Morris in 1969, I was of course a determined oil fired kiln builder in my early potting years. I built a lousy kiln on my brother\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s farm near Cedara in 1970, which I used during my first few years at University, studying for my Fine Arts Degree. I then moved to Hilton, where I built a home in my third year at University on a beautiful wooded plot given to me by my dad. There I actually built three large oil fired kilns. These were fired using some mysterious inflammable liquid that came from a laundry at R5 a 44 gallon drum. It was superb – burned like hell, great reduction, but quite smelly!
After graduating and getting married, I got the chance to move to Caversham Mill in the Midlands, eventually buying that property, with its derelict old Mill on the waterfall, for R15,000. And there I once again built several oil fired kilns, plus a wood fired number, and Jonathan Keep and I cunningly got the university students to come and build a salt kiln too – cheap labour!
At around this time – 1985 – 1998 - Michelle and I had a growing family, we had laboured long and mightily to put the Midlands Meander in place, and my pottery business was becoming very busy. In fact I was selling my pots, sight unseen, by the kiln load. I needed help – not to make the pots (maybe that too, but I wouldn’t admit it!) and I needed reliability in the kiln department – I made the best decision I have ever made as a potter. I approached Paul Pepworth, an old friend working at Kiln Contracts in the Cape with Craig Leslie. And they made me my 100 cu ft gas trolley kiln. It changed my life, quite literally. I could reduction fire, with great control, and work at the same time. I had specified the size of the kiln quite deliberately, and when the time came, I was able to pack it into a container and ship it off to my new home in England, where I used it for eleven years.
Life has changed once again, and after ten years here in Franschhoek, I have decided to buy another kiln. Potting in the 21st Century is a little different, once again, from before, and my needs have changed. I now specialize in porcelain, and I also specialize in making bespoke dinner services for my clients. I work with local chefs, who have particular needs for their restaurants, as well as people who cook at home, and who want something special to serve their masterpieces on!
I have a need for a smaller kiln, with a quicker turnaround time, but still with all the control – and I still want to carry on with MY work while it is doing its work. And Craig Leslie of Kiln Contracts has once again come up with the goods. A 50 cu ft trolley kiln – brand new, out of the box. I have only had one test firing, but already I am smitten and as pleased as punch with the results. An even, easy firing – great control, easy reduction, and although both the kiln and the gas needed to fire it are mighty expensive, I think that I have proven over quite a longish career – by NO means over yet – that getting somebody who knows about kilns to build you something special, is definitely worth it.
And get a photographer to take your photos too!
Cheers, David Walters.