PROCESSES

WOODFIRE

Firing with wood is the oldest and most widespread method of producing ceramic ware, and was only supplanted by gas and electricity in the 20th century.

Firing ceramic work in a kiln using wood as fuel can take several hours or many days, depending on the size of the kiln and the desired temperature to be attained. The wood fires I’ve participated in usually take five days of continual stoking and the kiln reaches about 1400 degrees C (2500 degrees F). The kiln is loaded by a group of experienced potters and students, using “wads” to stilt the pots and ceramic sculptures. This wadding will prevent the bottoms of the work from fusing to the kilnshelves, and will allow the flame to flow under the pot as well. The kiln is then “bricked up” and sealed before lighting the kiln. During the fire, as the wood combusts it produces flyash and some volatile salts and minerals, which ultimately fuse with the silica on the surface of the ceramic pieces in the kiln, forming a glaze. The placement of each piece in the kiln will determine the effects of the fire on the appearance of the pot, as the course of the fire leaves patterns and textures as clues to what happened inside the kiln.

The kiln is allowed to cool for several days after the end of the fire, the bricks are removed from the door opening and