The Wood Kiln
Each firing is a unique experience. Everything from the temperature and weather outside, the kind of wood being used, and even how densely packed the kiln is will affect the firing. This fickle nature is worlds apart from the controlled environment of electric and gas firings. Because of this, wood firings place unique and often strenuous demands on the potter. With each firing you become more in tune with your kiln, it's quirks and temperaments. Wood firings are also incredibly physically demanding. Our kiln fires anywhere from 13 to 15 hours, reaching as high as 2300°F and requires us to constantly monitor its status while stoking each fire box every few minutes. Although we are left exhausted by the end, each successful firing also brings feelings of pride, relief and a deeper appreciation for traditional forms of pottery. It is far from the simplest or easiest way to do pottery, but for us, there is no question that it is the most rewarding.
Our wood kiln was born from necessity rather than choice. As my father wanted to return to pottery more seriously, and I decided on pursuing pottery full time, we had to face two harsh truths. That building our own gas kiln, despite my fathers experience, is virtually impossible with all the new regulations and certifications required; and electric kilns simply don't produce the glazes and effects we so dearly love. So we were left with building a wood kiln, something foreign and alien to us both. Consulting with books by other potters and advice from experts like Euan Craig, we started building our own kiln from the ground up using bricks from an old gas kiln. Learning and improvising as we went, what resulted was an entirely unique kiln which we have been learning from and adapting to ever since.