Blaze Kiln Log App, Developed by Tanner Severson
Review by Nicole Rene Woodard
The Blaze Kiln Log App is perfect for skipping the paper waste of keeping a kiln log. Track your gas, wood, soda, or salt kiln from your phone with ease, and even set a reminder from the app for your next check-in.
Start out by adding your kiln and atmosphere. You can then select this kiln to log the start of your firing, note the cones, damper, and gas positions. While entering a new log, you can click on the digital cones to match the ones in your kiln! You can keep track of up to nine cone pack locations, and there is even a section to keep additional notes.
Why do this? Isn’t a paper log or keeping track mentally easier? The Blaze Kiln Log App will keep an easily accessible record of all your kilns in one place. Learn from your kilns logs to fire more efficiently and note any firing inconsistencies. Never forget which cones you put in the kiln, and there is a cone chart built in for both °F and °C at two different speeds.
Find the Blaze Kiln Log App in the Apple App store.
Keep reading to learn more about the Blaze Kiln Log App, from an interview between creator Tanner Severson and ClayCrits.
CC: Can you tell us about yourself and why you decided to create the Blaze Kiln Log App?
TS: Hi. My name is Tanner. I’m just a person, just like everyone else. I graduated from UNT at the end of 2019, right before COVID started.
While at UNT, I was able to experiment and stumble my way through learning how to fire a gas kiln. It wasn’t required, but I believed it was an important skill to learn, since knowing how to fire a kiln could be the difference between getting and not getting any potential opportunity.
But learning was a struggle. Everyone recommends keeping a log, but hardly anyone was able to track down their own logs. And when they did, they were always incomplete.
So I knew there had to be a better way of tracking and storing this data. And without studio access, I decided to solve this problem since it allowed me to continue being engaged in ceramics, while not being able to make actual ceramic objects.
CC: What surprised you about the process of developing an app? Was this a new endeavor?
TS: This was a totally new endeavor. I have no formal education in anything computer related, but I’ve always wanted to make an app.
There’s lots of surprises in the development process, but the biggest was just how similar programming and clay are. They both have a foundation in science with a practical function of improving our lives. Both require a lot of technical skill that takes years to learn and master. The actual crafting or making process itself as much an art form as it is a science.
And both involve lots of failure.
CC: If you had to choose, what is your favorite feature?
TS: My favorite feature is definitely the visual aspect of logging cone changes. There’s just something satisfying about tapping them and watching them fall over. I’m also a huge fan of the time intervals. I love being able to see the amount of time that passes in-between each log. As well as the total elapsed time at each log.
I have a few friends who have been using Blaze for awhile now, and after just a few firings, they’ve been able to consistently decrease their average active firing time by about 5 hours.
CC: What do you hope others will learn from using it?
TS: That’s a hard question to answer because Blaze really is just a tool. My hope is that it’s a tool that’s used because it’s so easy that not using it is more work.
Realistically I’m aware that not many people have access to gas kilns. And that once you know what you’re doing, you tend to stop keeping logs.
However my personal opinion is that firings themselves are not given their fair share of credit for the end result. So I am hoping that by making firings easier to track, that the subtleties of firing can become more appreciated.
But I think the real value in Blaze is with assisting those learning how to fire kilns. Hopefully by making the process a little bit easier.
CC: What should we expect to see as the app evolves?
TS: That’s a great question. A lot.
One of the most requested features is a way to track electric kilns, which isn’t something I thought about originally. So, I’m working on that, and anything related to it, like a way to plan out custom kiln programs, or way to track your kiln maintenance. I’m also thinking about other general studio problems, and how to potentially solve them. I would love to hear from anyone who has a problem in their studio that they think an app could help with.
I’m also working on basic functionality improvements. These are much less fun or exciting, but overall they need to be done. Things like adding iPad and Mac support (as well as iCloud).
Then, there’s the wish list of things I’d love to add. The biggest being able to allow multiple people to all share and collaborate on the same firing log, similar to a google doc. I’ve done some research and I think it’s possible, but I’m not entirely sure yet.
There’s also a lot more planned. But I’m keeping it secret until it’s ready.
Lisa York creates ceramics for special occasions and daily use. She received her MFA from University of North Dakota, and has worked at multiple art residencies and projects internationally. Her functional ceramics have been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Lisa York’s current art studio is located by Hartford, CT.
CC: To begin, in one sentence, sum up what your work is about.
LY: I make pottery for special occasion and daily use, and the varied surfaces, line, and circle patterns on the work are inspired from travel and time out doors.
CC: Tell us about your education background or major career accomplishments.
LY: I studied art at University of North Dakota, Hood College, Houghton College, and apprenticed with Kevin Crowe at Tye River Pottery.
I was an artist-in-residence at the Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute in Jingdezhen, China, the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary, and the Residency for Ceramics, Berlin, Germany.
In Tanzania, I started a ceramics program at of Neema Crafts, an organization that trains people with disabilities to become skilled artisans. Likewise, I worked with a similar program in Chichi, Guatemala for a short-term project.
My functional ceramics, have been exhibited nationally and internationally.
CC: What opportunities have been important to your artistic career?
LY: Education and adventures that inspire of the look of my work.
CC: What project or future project are you excited about?
LY: Incorporating more wood working as my new studio has more space to have more of my wood tools set up.
CC: Tell us about your studio practice. What’s most important to you?
LY: Working in series. My work slowly evolves from previous work I have made.
CC: What are 3 artists that you look up to and why?
LY: Mentors: people I have studied under.
Catherine White, her use of sketchbooks, and playfulness of altering her pottery out of the round.
Helen Otterson, her use of mixed media and she encouraged me to incorporate other materials into my work.
Kevin Crowe, his amazing pottery… but more so him as a person and balance of life and work.
CC: Finally, tell us about your favorite studio mug (made by another artist)
LY: My Stephanie Wilhelm mug with a portrait of my dog maple.
Find more information about Lisa York on her website https://www.lisayorkarts.com/ and on instagram at @lisayorkarts.