Why We Plan To Wood-Fire Our Pottery

wood firing, wood kiln, wood fired pottery

Nathan and I both love to wood-fire our pottery.  When we met, we'd each "logged" many hundreds of hours stoking hot kilns, and were both dreaming of some day having our own.  And so we embarked on this wood-kiln-building journey, which looks now as if it will span a fairly large portion of the first three years of our lives together!  

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We had the land, and we had the dream, and slowly but surely, things began coming together with serendipity- it made us feel like we were on the right track!  Just two weeks after we got engaged, five pallets of brand-new super-duty firebrick and a whole mess of free insulating bricks came our way for very few dollars.  A year later, our families and friends gathered to help us raise the 30' x 40' shed over our kiln site on a warm November day.   A year has passed since then, and we've amassed thousands of bricks, countless other materials and tools, and water and power at the kiln site.  We've built a well-drained foundation, and are well under way building the floor and firebox of the kiln.

These are big accomplishments, and yet the amount of work still to be done can, at times, overwhelm me.  (Especially with the impending winter and next years' show applications going out!)   I have been tested by the physical and mental strength this project requires of me, by the countless details to be foreseen- like sub-floor air channels and buried steel bracing- and daunted by the number of tasks to be completed that I know very little to nothing about at present. (Fortunately, Nathan knows a lot!!) In the meantime, I take comfort in photos and memories of wood-firings past for re-assurance, guidance, and encouragement.  I think about my favorite wood-fired mugs, or the juicy stoneware bowls that got covered in a heavy coat of wood-ash, and melted to create a gorgeous glazed surface.  It is motivating!

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Also motivating are the reasons Nathan and I believe in wood fired pottery.  We get excited thinking about how the wood burned in the kiln will provide our pottery with a natural glaze: we leave much of the decorating to the fire and flame!  We love that it is an ancient process, that for thousands of years, humans have been lighting a fire inside an arch of bricks to harden water jars and bowls that will sustain and enhance human life.  And most of all, we can feel good about fueling our kiln with a local, renewable, and plentiful resource; we'll be getting bundled slab wood from the local saw mills.  It's already scrap product, off-cuts from locally-milled and harvested lumber.  There's a lot to be done, and a lot to look forward to! ~Becca

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