Over the past twenty-five years or so I've had the opportunity to do some wood fired pottery with my friends at nearby Gleason Brook Pottery. In my home studio the work is fired with propane. The wood fired kiln at Gleason Brook Pottery provides an opportunity to experience a different approach to pottery making, and a different kind of surface effect.
The wood kiln is fired with split lengths of pine and cedar. It takes a continuous stoking of the kiln for 24 to 30 hours to reach cone 10. Usually 5 or 6 people are involved in the firing, working in 4 hour shifts. It is a nice break from my regular approach to firing to be working on a team effort.
The special appeal of wood firing comes from atmospheric effects on the glazes and unglazed surfaces of the pots. Small particles of wood ash float through the kiln, following the path of the flame and land on the pottery. The minerals in the ash fuse into a glaze at these yellow hot temperatures and can create some beautiful flashes of colour. In addition, the burning wood releases calcium and phosphorus fumes into the kiln which can also give wonderful blushes of colour on the sides of the pieces. The is a certain satisfaction in working within an ancient tradition of pottery making, and in seeing the unexpected results of the wood ash and glaze interactions.
This piece is mostly hand built and was made in 2005. It is one in a series of pieces inspired by Neolithic Chinese forms from about 4,000 years ago. It has a thin wash of a shino type glaze, with some small dots of a chrome green glaze. It stands about 21 cm tall.
This pouring vessel was assembled from thrown pieces and is also part of the Neolithic vessel series. It was made in 2005. It has a thin wash of a shino type glaze, with some small dots of a chrome green glaze. It stands about 20 cm tall.
This little bottle vase was formed with a plaster press mould and stands 12.5 cm tall. It was made in the mid-1980s. It has a copper blue glaze that sometimes turns red in wood firing. Some wax resist brush strokes reveal the unglazed surface, which has been flashed by the wood kiln vapours.
A large hand built vase formed in a plaster press mould. The copper blue glaze was lightly spayed on the surface, and there are some black glaze stripes. This piece stands 25.3 cm tall and was made in the mid-1980s.
A thrown vase with a temmoku glaze as a base, plus brush strokes over top in iron, rutile and titanium. This piece was fired very hot at least cone 12, and the glaze and brush strokes have flowed together nicely with the extra heat. It stands 28 cm high and was made in the early 1990s.
This is one of the earlier wood fired pieces, from around 1983. It was made with an iron rich stoneware body and was unglazed on the outside, with only some porcelain slip finger marks for decoration. It has a temmoku glaze on the inside, and stands 29.5 cm tall.
There are additional wood fired pieces on my Hand built
page, and Teapot