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The Merry-Go-Gama Kiln
An Experimental Kiln

Che "Merry-Go-Gama" was built by Ian Jones, of the Australian National University/Canberra School of Art, for the ClayFeast Ceramics Festival in April 2001. The kiln was an attempt to use the principle of the traditional German Hoffman kiln on a miniature scale. The multi-chambered Hoffman Kiln was a type of kiln used in old brickworks and for lime burning. Unfortunately, there is not much information on the WWW about this kiln type. Related to this kiln are also the Bull Trench Kiln, 18th C English Bottle Kilns, the Vertical Tunnel Kiln and the Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln, developed in China in the late 1960's and so-called "Clamp Kilns". Similar to the Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln, the Hoffman Kiln has found applications in the third world. "Hoffman kilns are massive - looking down from the top, the firing follows a circuit around the kiln's oval shape. Clamp kilns are just a pile of bricks with an opening underneath for the fuel. Often the clamp has no permanent walls - mud is dabbed all around to help prevent leaks. The bull's trench is a hole in the ground in which fuel and brick are stacked then fired." (Excerpt from "A Ceramic Safari in East Africa", article by Reid Harvey).

The Hoffman Kiln utilizes air drawn through cooling chambers, providing preheated primary air, i.e. gases exhausted from the chamber being fired preheat the following chambers before being drawn through the flue into the chimney. The Merry-Go-Gama kiln can be visualized as an eight chamber climbing kiln, with the chambers arranged in a circular fashion around a central chimney. The airflow through the kiln was in a clockwise direction. A wet newspaper damper was used to prevent an anti-clockwise airflow coming from the chamber being packed.

In practice, this kiln was difficult to fire. The airflow didn't get going as was hoped. However, this doesn't mean that the principles can't be applied to a kiln of this size.

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