View Full Version : Any potters have some wood firing tips?

Potter Jo
13-10-2010, 01:53 PM
Hello fellow potters!

Iím wondering if any of you have ever done a wood firing before as I could do with a spot of advice.

Iím going to be putting half a dozen pots into a wood fired kiln in a couple of weeks as part of the Kiln Club at University for the Creative Arts in Farnham (I'd post a link but I'm not allowed just yet as a newbie!)

I was wondering whether I should gaze these pots, or leave them natural, in the hope that I might get some interesting effects? I do have some stoneware glazes that I thought I may use, but is there anything I should know before I throw my pots into the kiln and hope for the best?

Any advice you may have would be much appreciated.


14-10-2010, 09:05 AM
I'm just an onlooker. Don't know nothing about the technicalities but at Kentwell www.kentwell.co.uk (http://www.kentwell.co.uk) all the pottery is woodfired.

They do quickie firings. (I wonder if that's a hole in the ground DIY type kiln that I joined in with in a friend's garden years ago?) The terracotta coloured clay comes out black. It's biscuit fired but slightly softer than normal.
The proper kiln is a giant beehive looking affair. You need lots of wood and they string us up by the yard arm if we pinch any during drunken revellries the night before.
The firing takes a day and often goes into the night. The master potter is very particular about how we feed the branches into the 3 holes around the base (to keep the heat even). There's also a lot of checking for leaks and slapping on of daub if steam or smoke is seen escaping from cracks.
Biscuit firings are always successful. The ones with glazed pots are more dodgey. Definately needs more skill to know when to stop. It's not a problem. Pots are just fired again. (But as we can see our pot being made one year and not get it until the next our view of time is slightly more relaxed than modern people ;).)
The results? The 'proper' potter's pots just look like the normal stuff coming out of their electric kilns. The 'amateur potters' pots can be interesting.
Having said that I think the clay is slightly more groggy than what the pro's use at home.
Cider and someone with a guitar are an essential ingredient of a Kentwell firing and for drama try doing it at night in a thunderstorm.
Have fun.

Potter Jo
26-10-2010, 12:53 PM
Hello AnnieAnna, and thank you for all of your comments. Having never actually seen wood firing before, it was really useful to read your description of the process. I'm pretty excited for this weekend's firing, and having talked to a few potter friends, they tell me my life will never be the same again after experiencing wood firing :)

I helped out with the wood chopping process a week ago and will be taking the day off my "proper job" tomorrow to help with packing the kiln. In the early days of my pottery journey, I used to think loading the kiln was kind of like putting crockery in a hot cupboard, but it's amazing to hear how the proximity to other items, convection currents and through flow of air can all make a difference. I really can't wait to learn more.

I'm lucky I've been able to take time off work to participate in this, but it's always struggle juggling my pottery and full time job, but I'm confident that one day I'll introduce myself as a potter, rather than a web designer.

Potter Jo
03-11-2010, 01:03 PM
So I finally made it to 25 posts, which means I can now include links in my messages! For those who are interested, I thought you miht like to see some photos of last weekend's wood firing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakislandtreasure/sets/72157625177956898/

The annoying thing is that the kiln is being opened today and I have to wait until 13th Nov until I can collect my little post. I'm not very good at being patient!

I'd never participated in a wood firing before, so I was very excited to see what happened, lend a hand in stoking the kiln and learnm more about opacking the shelves. I've learnt so much and the bonus is that I'l (hopefully) have some decent pots in a few weeks time too.

19-12-2010, 06:32 PM
I'd glaze the insides, and the rim as well (with a jug for example)
Have a look at John Leach's work (Muchelney Pottery) I know it is USA based, but go on the clayart forum. Plenty of woodfirers there and also Steve Mills from Bath who can help.

Have fun, learn plenty. I'm envious!