From Behind the Wheel - Wood Fire

Hey Friends!  Welcome to "From Behind the Wheel". I would like to use this space to explain my craft; the creation of pots as well as the firing of them. Even though firing is typically one of the last steps in my process, I thought I would start with it. As you look through my work, you will see that most of it is wood fired. This type of firing has everything to do with the way my work looks so I thought it would be a good place to start. My plan is to explain this process as it pertains to me in installments. There’s a lot! For today, here's a little bit about the kiln.  

So, when I say that my work is wood fired, I mean that the work is fired in a kiln that is fueled entirely with wood. There are many types of wood burning kilns, but the one I mainly fire in is an anagama style wood kiln. It belongs to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and I am able to fire it because I take a class at the Institute. Anagama is a Japanese term meaning “cave kiln”. As you look at the pictures of the kiln you will definitely see how it gets it's name. It is very cave-like inside. This type of kiln was brought to Japan from China via Korea in the 5th century. The kiln I use has an upward slope.  It’s taller and wider at the front and shortens and narrows at the back. It kind of looks like a whale. There’s a firebox in the front where the wood is put in and there’s a chimney at the back.  This kiln can hold between 700 and 800 pots. Yes, that’s a lot of pots! A community of potters is required to fire this kiln. Not only to fill it, but also to fire it. We fire for four and a half days and someone is there stoking wood around the clock. 


Here's an inside view without any pots. You can see how it steps up.  

And a view from the back. It's great having a roof over the kiln so we are protected from the weather. We will tarp the around the outside, creating walls, to keep wind and rain out.  

Next time, I'll talk about loading the pots in this monster. Like everything else about clay, it's a process.  

1 comment

  • Cool!


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