The Cosmic Rabbit

“Hallo, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?” "Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.” ― A.A. Milne

..and the and Owner of one of the fastest Kilns on the Planet

My good friend Cheryl Adler, who apart from her many talents is entirely intuitive, called me one day around May 01, 2017

She  must have some magical connections because she'll feel if I'm sick or unhappy and sms me to check on me. She called to say I should do a Raku Course being held on a Farm in Bot River that very weekend. I made excuses and said I was really busy but she just said "shush, just go ! You need to do this course. Trust me". And so off I went to do the course wondering if this wasn't just another casual waste of time. 

Great fun was had by all and it was a rave from start to ffinish. Plenty of good food, wine and loud music in beautiful surroundings. I left to come home a day earlier than everyone else because I'd had my fun and was ready to quieten down after all of the excitement. In any case, this colour wouldn't work, that one wasn't foodsafe, this one wasn't available and I felt I was rubbing people up the wrong way when they were busy decorating their ffirst plate and I was on my tenth pot. I just happen to work at the speed of lightning. I ffind it gets me out of my own way and there's no time to think or block my creative process.

After returning home I let loose and painted the pots in brightly coloured pigment paint. After taking pictures of the pots I put up a website and sent links to a few people, including one to Dorp Street Galleries in Stellenbosch. They responded immediately saying they'd take everything I had and another 45. I called Zbys who had supplied the bisque ware and given the course but he was not at all happy. I asked him just to spit it out. "What's the problem?" I asked. Turned out it was only a money issue. While 2 days previously he had charged a nominal fee for bisque ware he now thought he should charge more. "OK" I said. Think of what will make you happy and let's take it from there. I don't want to work with unhappy people. 2 days later I received a considered emailed reply and he asked for a 1,775% percent  increase per pot. Fair enough I thought. A bit out of the ballpark but anyone can ask what they want.

Immediately I jumped into the car and ran off to the local Pottery Supply Store. I ran in there breathless and asked how much their bisque ware was. R 37.50 for a bowl, not bad. Nice and thin and Japanese looking. "Listen" I said " if I paint these before 5 when can I have them back?" Expecting to be told sometime the next day I was horriffied when Karen said " in about 3 weeks" . No, I can wait 3 minutes, I can wait 3 hours, but I'll never be able to wait 3 weeks. there was a book lying on the counter and it's title was "Alternative Kilns". Alternative sounded just up my alley. I flipped the book open and it landed on a page called "Rocket Kilns". Oooh a Rocket Kiln, now that sounds exactly like my kind of thing. I purchased the book on the spot and turned it towards Karen. "Just sell me everything I need. It's now 3 o clock and I want to do my ffirst ffiring tonight. Please hurry, I got no time to waste. I have a gardener at home who has just cut half a barrel and I see it's just what I need for a Rocket Kiln. Tessa, who runs The Pot Spot in Muizenberg was in the store at the time and she stepped forward and said "Exuse me, but do you know what you're doing ?" "Not a fucking clue " I said "but I'm doing it". "Oh" Tessa said "It's all so exiting, can a group of us get together and pay for the gas and bring some wine and we'll have a Potters' evening ?" "Sure" I said, give me a few days and I'll be ready. After an initial um and ah from Karen about what they could and couldn't supply she got my drift and everything was packaged and paid for and I was home and Robert ffinished my kiln before 5 pm. I did my ffirst ffiring in my Rocket Kiln that same night, painting and photographing the bowls and including them on my website. (http://www.anthonyjohnson.co.za/Ceramics/) Slipcast Stoneware.  Wow, I thought, this is really so cool. After many more experiments I invited myself and my friend Cheryl to lunch with Kobus and Andrea just for a day in the country and to chill. While Andrea and Cheryl  swore they must have been sisters in another life, I showed Kobus my attempts at ffiring using my own Kiln. "Oh" he says "you want a kiln ?" He shows me a kiln that he designed and built and says take it, I'm not going to use it anymore. "But this'll never ffit into my car" I say "Now do you really think that I would design something that doesn't come apart for easy transport ?" he says. "Take a picture on that iPhone of yours and then you'll know how to put it back together again. He calls "Piet, Koos kom sit hierdie ding in die kar vir daai man."

When I returned home from another amazing day Robert, my fabulous gardener, looked at the picture and put the kiln together ready for a test ffiring that evening. After some initial problems I suddenly cracked the magic code of how this Rocket Kiln worked and suddenly I was able to get from room temperature to 1000 degees in 3 and a half minutes ! "Wow that's quick" said my friend Eve who I did a website for in exchange for her help with Porcelain. "I take about 7 hours from start to ffinish just for the bisque ware ffiring and that only goes up to 900 degrees" she said. Then I hand it in at the Pottery Supply Store and they're usually quite good. They say 3 weeks but it usually gets done in less than that. 

I am still improving on the system but soon I'll go for a Guiness Book of Records Record for the world's fastest Kiln Firing. The original Rocket Kiln was developed for people like me that wanted to test ideas and glazes and needed quick results. With a small adjustment I brought the original Rocket Kiln fast ffiring time down to 3 and a half minutes....this really is magic I thought.


Slipcast Stoneware.

 From my very first firing in the Rocket kiln I built .

It's  not called a Rocket Kiln for nothing !

Once it reaches 800 degrees C it literally blasts off in spectacular fashion making a loud roar like a jet engine at take off. That's when you know you're cooking.