For 50 years—the ceramic design & and artisan Makeshops of Maine Kiln Works have created beautiful durable objects for everyday use, to encourage traditional artisanship and process engineering in a variety of mediums.
Maine Kiln Works is located in the coastal village of West Gouldsboro, Maine (between Jones Pond and Jones Cove) on the way to Winter Harbor and Schoodic Point—home to Schoodic Institute | Acadia National Park.
In 1971—Dan Weaver turned down a university teaching position and moved from north Texas to rural Maine determined to make a living as a “maker”. Five decades later—Maine Kiln Works believes the only way to fully explore any idea is to conceive, design and build it (virtual model or tangible object).
In January 2018—Dan established a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational to metamorphose Maine Kiln Works to Artisan Lab. Our goal is to empower a new generation of Artisans to work with both hands & minds, despite cultural and economic disincentives. The Mission is 10 Finger Thinking—inspiring personal growth through craftsmanship & technology by providing an immersive, resource-rich environment to develop individual creative capacity, enrich local & global communities and serve all races, genders and ethnicities.
Explore Maine Kiln Works | Waterstone Sink | Artisan Lab Instagram Feed — to shadow ’10 Finger Thinking’
Speedwell (Veronica persica) grows throughout Maine and blooms in early spring. It can be found in sunny open areas, along the edges of wooded areas and in fields or on lawns. These tiny blue flowers are less than half inch in diameter.
“Poor man's fertilizer is what the old Yankees called snow and there is considerable truth to that expression. Snowflakes as they form and fall absorb nitrates from the atmosphere and then release these nutrients into the soil as the snow melts."
On completion of the hour and 3/4 Filter Press session the central slip feed tunnel is back flushed with compressed air and the hydraulic ram compressing the filter faced frames together is released. The 38 de-watered clay cakes (16 x 16 x 1.5 inch thick) can then be removed from the cavity space between the filter faced frames.
Each cake is then cut into pie shapes small enough for the mouth of the Venco Pug Mill to swallow. The single auger helix on the Venco makes for challenging feeding. My double auger Danco Pug Mill learned to do this better via Venco’s inefficient but less expensive hopper feed design.
Mill brook bordering my West Gouldsboro home (bound for Flanders and Frenchmans Bay) in constant motion with Woodchuck and Meadow Mice out of hibernation and Fisher racing the banks. Bald Eagle fish the brook mouth now hosting Elvers (Glass Eeel) and Seal. Turkey clans working their way across the fields and Geese streaming overhead to that place they're sure the season needs now. Maine's wonderful winter gratefully punctuated by spring.
Removing plastic stoneware cakes from each of 38 Netzsch Filter Press chambers following 1:45 minute de-watering pressing session.
100 gallons of wet blunged slip (pumped into the Filter Press) maximized plasticity retained in the clay cakes which are now moisture balanced but now need a ride through the vacuum de-airing Venco pugmill to become homogeneous.
The tiny flat clay platelets now have full plastic lubricity to optimize formability.
The remaining trickle of exiting water after 1:45 minutes of Filter Press cycling and pump intervals slowed to 50 seconds. In other words / as the press squeezes out water the clay cakes become stiffer (with less water) and the pump cycles become progressively shorter.
Pressing beyond this 1 3/4 hour session creates clay which is too stiff to easily form but with care suited for Ram Pressing.
A day in the life of 'Netzsch the Filter Press'. Whomp whomping sound (David seez Bjork like song) is the cycling 120 psi pneumatic stainless-steel pump compressing blunged clay slip in the 38 cake chamber spaces between filter fabrics and press frames compressed at 56,000 psi (by my hand levered hydraulic ram). High pressure pneumatic pump forces excess water from slip through filters to exit clear to drain leaving throwing stiffness clay cakes ready to be made homogeneous in the 10 inch Venco SS pugmill.
My mold shop and clay mixing space with 10 inch Venco SS pugmill (with out-feed table), pneumatic SS pumped Netzsch 5600 psi Filter Press fed by my pair of 100 gallon slip blunging tanks (reverse engineered from discarded bits and pieces sourced on ebay).
Clay is plastic and plastic is not. If you think making good clay is easy please watch and read on.
I use my pair of 100 gallon slip blunging tanks to fully wet and maximize my clay body plasticity. Clay particles are tiny flat plates that resist becoming hydrated on all surfaces. The difference between a plastic clay body and one that is 'short' is figuratively 'night and day'.
Sooo - I make my body too wet to maximize working qualities and then use my 'Filter Press' to remove the excess water. The clay 'Cakes' are then run through my 10 inch stainless pugmill to de-air and wedge the homogeneous ready to throw result.
The Blunger timer is set to agitate the 100 gallons of slip three times over 24 hour intervals over 4 days prior to 'Filter Pressing' 800 pounds of super plastic clay body.
For the anal retentive the specific gravity clocked @ 1.45 which helps me to plan the duration of the filter pressing session. In other words it is helpful to know how long to run the filter press session to create clay with a functional working stiffness (for my clay working habits a very important benchmark which floats accordingly to the form or process I am using).
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge (opened to traffic in December 2006) was built alongside the Waldo–Hancock Bridge (which it replaced) designed by the engineer responsible for the iconic moments of Galloping Gertie.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge is a 2,120 feet long cable-stayed bridge that carries US 1 over the Penobscot River below Bucksport. It connects Verona Island to Prospect, in the state of Maine. It replaced the Waldo–Hancock Bridge, built in 1931.
I recently received mail which referred to my artisan efforts as semi-automated. This crystalline detail falls in that category as I do nothing more than cross my fingers to encourage semi-automatic magic.
During my youth a mentor explained 'the trick to do something difficult is to hold your mouth right while you do it'
This photo group shows my digital camera and lens assembly used to image crystalline growth at 1100 centigrade. The camera is prefocused because intense radiant light at temperature makes focus impossible. The tethered strobe unit on kiln top flashes through a briefly open kiln top port to cancel the too-bright radiant light so the image can be recorded. This assembly can be used to image either from a kiln top port or from a side port and can be either hand held or tripod mounted. The strobe and camera assembly is exposed to the high radiant heat for less than a minute to prevent damage to the lens elements and strobe. A heat absorbing lens and the design of the lens tubes additionally limits imaging equipment heat exposure to protect the digital apparatus from damaging heat.
I fire crystalline glazed porcelain bowls one at a time so I can monitor the crystal growth in real time as the dynamic matrix slowly grows on the surface of the hot fluid glaze at 1100 centigrade. I track the crystal growth with an external digital camera using a lens modified with a telescope eyepiece to sequentially image the fiery metamorphose. The high temperature photo sequence allows me to see and attempt to manage what is normally a hidden progression inside the bright orange heat of the kiln.