Wood-firing forms a vital and intimate aspect to my making. Using wood as a kiln fuel invites an elaborate set of challenges, both physically and intellectually. The preparation, the pre-heat, the firing itself, then cooling and the first glimpses of a kiln-load of hot pots: the seductive colours and iridescence of the resulting fired surfaces make it very addictive.
Aesthetically, it is the fly ashes from the burning fuel, which add a serendipitous mix of glaze ingredients to the maturing clay and slips. Subjected to the vagaries of kiln atmosphere and flame movement, these pots celebrate a meeting between the conscious and unconscious. In this way, firing becomes an integral part of the creative process. It brings a strong cyclical pattern to my work, a chain of decision making that is continually informative to the pots being made in the studio.
The process of firing itself is a quiet and enjoyable one. The firing day begins at about 5am, following a pre-heat of the raw pots the day before. A white heat of 1300ºC, is achieved slowly over about 18 hours and then held for approximately 3 hours to allow for good glaze maturation throughout. By necessity of the long day length and the design of kiln, it is a communal activity. I am indebted to Wobage colleagues as well as local friends and college students, with whom I have learned and shared the experience.