For the last three years, I have been on a week long course learning how to fire wood kilns. I have had a lot of fun and learnt a lot,plus, a big plus, got loads of my pots woodfired.
There are three kilns, an anagama kiln, a soda ‘fast fire’ kiln,and a different type of experimental kiln every year.This year it was warmer,I slept in my van and don’t remember it being cold,unlike previous years.There is something lovely about opening the door and seeing just countryside and birds flying around whilst still in bed. The kilns take all week to fire and three nights you are up at unearthly hours feeding the fiery monsters.
Soda firing in the ‘Fast fire’ is a bit quicker,with ten pounds of salt squirted through holes to vapourise, land on the pots and make a glaze with the body.
The experimental kiln is where you learn the most as you have to build it from a pile of bricks.This year we were building a wood/oil fired catenary arched
kiln,we were going to build up a bed of embers with hardwood and softwood and then blow the ash onto the pots with a powerful oil burner.We nearly made it,everything was so wet,it held it back.In fact wet timber was a problem with all the kilns.Eventually after much fun,hardwork,lots of laughs and good luck it all ended happily ever after.There is always the slight pang of worry when you pack a kiln.Sometimes when you crack it open you need a while to lets the pots speak to you.