New Wood firing kiln

For sometime I have thought of having a wood firing kiln but realized it would be a serious commitment and would lead to a new direction for my work, when are you ready for such an undertaking? The annual firing at Graeme Wilkie’s anagamma over recent years had been my only experience woodfiring. Over the last decade my work has gradually moved in a direction that has made the move to wood firing the next logical step. This seems to coincide with my decade of working with traditional Indian potters?
It was certainly after my Asialink residency at the beginning of 2012 in Kumhaargraam India that my resolve to build such a kiln was confirmed. Saying the words was the easy part.
I live on a large naturally treed property sharing it with my architect/builder partner Peter, friend Jenny and now just left home two young men. We are not connected to the power grid so the limited solar power generated has precluded a studio at home. I was now considering a totally unpowered studio.
There are a range of wood   firing  kilns, and building one is a serious physical and financial undertaking, on what basis do you make a choice ? My priorities were; easily fired with a one or two others, fuel efficient using locally found timber and the availability of a good plan. I was not  interested in long firing for encrusted objects but a means to fire simple tableware efficiently. I could not make a decision, the sloping site suggested a small anagama but I kept hearing of the ease of firing a bourry box, but the design looked complicated. I went to Subversive, a There are a range of wood   firing  kilns, and building one is a serious physical and financial undertaking, on what basis do you make a choice ? My priorities were; easily fired with a one or two others, fuel efficient using locally found timber and the availability of a good plan. I was not ceramic conference in Adelaide late 2012 with the aim to come home with a decision. I favoured all the wood related presentations. It seemed to me anyone with an anagamma style kiln was in the process of or intended to make modifications but the Bourry box was being used enthusiastically. A brief conversation with Merrilyn Stock swung my indecision to the bourry box, she had just built and fired one and could send me the plans.

Kiln from firebox end

I have built 4 kilns before and did not look forward to the task, however once embarked, despite the January February heat I found I enjoyed the challenge of making sense of the minimal plans, working on the site of my new studio ( thanks Peter) and anticipating the Crosshatched firings with the soon to arrive Rajasthani potters Manohar Lal, Banay Singh and Ann Ferguson. The pressure was on to have it completed by the beginning of Crosshatched 2013, this did not happen so I had extra help when they arrived with building the chimney and rendering the kiln.

Firing the kiln with Banay Singh

The kiln has now been fired 9 times, each one a valuable learning experince. With Manori  and Banay Singh here early in the year we had lots of pieces to fire. We have been really impressed with the action of wood on terracotta at  lower temperature, more challenging has been the return to high fired glazes. However the evidence of flame and ash on stoneware is holding my attention as I work on getting a wider temperature range of appealing glazes.