Monday, April 19, 2010

The Allure of the Woodfire

If you look around in the ceramic world today, chances are you’ll find a good amount of wood-fired work out there. The popularity of this firing method seems to become greater each year. I noticed this and asked myself, “Why are so many people making wood-fired pots? What’s the big deal?”. Wood-firing is not exactly a new method; in fact it is just the opposite, so that can’t be why so many people are excited about it. It’s not a short-cut or easy way out by any means. In fact, as far as I can tell it is probably one of the most labor-intensive methods of firing, so that’s probably not the reason for such excitement either.

It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to join in an anagama firing at the East Creek Anagama kiln that I fully understood why people love wood-firing so much. Sure, some enjoy getting the most textured, ash-covered pots possible; but others enjoy a very smooth surface, colored gently by the fire and ash. The results from wood-firing are as varied as the potters that choose to do them. I think the greatest reason for participating in wood-firing is just that--participating. Wood-firing is such an interesting and enjoyable experience. Getting together with a group of good friends and fellow artists around a wood-kiln is the perfect mix of artistic collaboration and shared work. Sure it takes a lot of work, but it also gives you that precious time in which so many great conversation occur; time that helps to form strong and lasting friendships.

The end results of the fired work are always exciting and surprising, and ultimately enjoyable. But the results of time spent and work done together is equally exciting as well. All This being said, I would love to know why you do wood-firings, or why you do not, or why you never would or always will. Feel free to respond to this blog with your take on the wood-firing phenomenon.


  1. I fire most of my work in anagamas for three reasons:
    1) There is no other way to achieve the richness of surface that you get from an anagama.
    2) I'm inspired by my interaction with other people at the kiln, and my pots are affected by their placement among the other pieces in the kiln.
    3) I learn SO much every time I fire. About clay, wood, fire, water, chemistry, physics... about other people and about myself.
    4) The food at firings is always really good. :)

  2. I love the insight that the two of you have provided, in addition to the post by Brenda. I have yet to experience being a part of a wood fire crew but I have worked with a crew of potters for salt firings. It isn't the same level of intensity or duration but the interaction and camaraderie are on par. As it the good food!