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River of Fire

If you've been following this blog you know I've been involved in a woodfiring workshop.  If you've missed an articles they can be found here, here, and here.
The kiln was loaded on Monday and preheated with gas in order to save on wood, anagama kilns use quite a lot of wood.  Shorter University has lots of wood land so dead fall is easy to find but it still has to be cut, transported and split.  It's a lot of work so we tried not to waste any.
Ian built this door in the school's metal shop.  It hangs above the opening to the kiln so it moves easily and provides a shield from the heat while stoking the kiln.
Wood kiln door and shield

This kiln is built out of soft brick so it's actually very easy to fire.  We were hanging out, talking pottery and such then every 15 minutes or so someone would throw about 4-5 pieces of wood into the firebox.  This maintained a temperature between 1500 & 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
The kiln also has two side stoke ports.  One of the ports was blocked with pottery but we could get the kiln temperature up a few hundred degrees very quickly by throwing a few pieces of wood into the side port that was open.  This will also add some more ash to the pots near the back of the kiln.
Here's a view of the chimney with the flames coming out the top.  You can see why the fire department shows up for every wood firing.  It seems someone always notices this and calls 911 which is a good thing.  Wood fire potters know to notify the fire department and to make friends with them.
Ian adjusts the damper

Most of the flame path is created by the fire in the front of the kiln but it travels through the anagama and out the chimney caressing the pots it passes on it's way out.  This is what makes the clay start to melt and become sticky so the ash can stick to it and become glaze as it melts.
One thing I was surprised about was that it didn't smell smokey, apparently when wood gets this hot whatever creates that campfire smell is burned off.  The nice part is that you can still hear the fire as it breathes and rolls and flows through the dragon.
Inside the wood kiln

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery


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