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Gotta Split

Wood firing pottery is not an easy task.  It's a lot of work and it's best done with a community if you're going to fire an anagama.  This past June I was invited to bring some pots to fire in Roger Jamison's anagama near Macon.  It was a lot of fun and a good firing despite loosing some pieces.  So when I learned that he was going to be splotting a stacking wood for the next firing I was more than happy to volunteer to help.

Splitting and sticking enough wood to bring a kiln up to 2300 degrees definitely takes a community effort.  I came on Sunday so quite a bit of the work was already done but we still had a few trees to cut, lots of stumps to move to the splitter and lots of stumps to split.  This is followed by lots of wood to stack so we got busy right away.

Logs To Split

I have to say how grateful I am that someone invented the log splitter.  It's a wonderful tool and made a hard job much easier.  It helps save time not only by being the muscle but also by making it easier to split wood that is wet.  I learned that when I tree dies because of an insect infestation it will often retain a lot of water and sap because it dies so fast and the moisture can't escape through the leaves like it would if it died slowly. Did you know a large tree can hold several hundred gallons of water?

 Much of the wood we had was from trees that had died from bugs so the wood was very wet.  It will dry out much faster now that it's split but it would have been really tough to split it by hand with so much moisture in it.  I can't imagin what it was like for potters in the north with long cold winters and wood kilns.  Of course if you heat with wood you warm yourself twice, once cutting, once burning.

I hope the timing works out so that I can get some pots into this kiln, it'll be fun to handle those pieces of wood again.

Guitar Pickin' Potters

At the end of the day we relaxed with a little music from a couple of pickin' potters.  It was perfect.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. Looks like a great day to be out of doors getting some exercise and accomplishing something as well.

  2. I love the tired feeling of a hard day of physical work. especially when you know it will lead to firing some pots :-)

  3. When we lived in New Hampshire we heated with our wood stove for ten years, nice and toasty. But yes, we gathered and purchased and split wood year 'round to be certain of our supply :)

    1. It’s true, wood gives off a great heat. Spreading out the splitting is a smart way to do it.

  4. I think firing a wood kiln is the best kind of community. My experiences firing always included good food, musicians coming around and of course the nicest people ever. Makes the hard work easier somehow.....

    1. Yes, and the stories that are shared. There is something about a fire that makes a community.


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