Devon woodfiring

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.

Tina in the anagama

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.


About timbartell

I was born in a flat in Lambeth the name of which was, Wedgewood house,China walk estate.I'd forgotten this until recently,it dawned on me the significance of the names after I had become interested in pottery/ceramics.I think of myself as a potter in the most practical sense,making pots for people to use.I have never had any formal training,I took it up when the table tennis class was full.My first flat was in the same road as a pottery centre, Elmwood pottery, the best in London, 18 sessions a week and a real community. I love my craft and bore everyone with it, so am grabbing this chance to bore more people via this blog.There may be the odd interesting item, here's hoping.
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1 Response to Devon woodfiring

  1. Jo Atherton says:

    So have you planned your kiln yet? When am I coming round to supervise that catenary arch?!

    You had some lovely pots this year. Will you sell them or keep them? Mine are still growing on me, but I do have a couple I’m infatuated with. I felt I learnt so much this year, especially from that experimental kiln. I think if I build one, then get a jet engine off eBay, I might reach temperature 😉

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