Originally a Korean process thousands of years ago, then adapted and appropriated by Japanese potters, the woodfires happening today are largely unchanged from ones of the past. While the actual stoking of fire happens to last between 7-10 days, avid wood fire enthusiasts realize that a good successful woodfire takes more like several months to a year to prepare for. It may be easy to understand the making of wares, the loading of those pieces and the attention of each stoking shift working 24 hours a day over the entire course of the firing. The part even some seasoned potter’s might miss is the procurement and processing of the correct quality and quantity of wood needed to fire. That part of the process while essential can easily take the longest amount of time.
My love affair with woodfired ceramics started back in the mid-90’s with a workshop ran by Buffalo State College at Artpark in Lewiston, NY where the allure of the fire/extreme heat hooked me immediately. After taking a decade long break from the process, I was personally invited to attend the firings at Rodney Mott’s Penryn compound as a guest assisting Nakona MacDonald in those loadings and firings. Through almost a ten year timeframe, I almost learned how to successfully fire a woodfire kiln under Rodney’s guidance and goading. The pictures below are of that time period. Rodney is consummate artist and has been for a long time. His work can be viewed here
Here I am stoking, putting my hand in fire to properly place wood into the firebox.
Here Nakona is stoking some mossy bark into what’s affectionately called the crotch of this kiln.
Late night stoking is essential, tranquil, yet exhausting shift.
Here you see simultaneous dual stoking on either side of this chamber.
I’m extremely fortunate to have been invited to participate alongside small core group of craftspeople in the scared act of firing at Rock Rose Studios in Anderson Valley. The talented and thoughtful craftsman Nakona MacDonald has approved my participation in firings on his property. Results from the firing are curated here: https://kickwheelsonoma.com/collections/woodfire
There is a communal aspect that has been established for these firings as it’s an extremely exclusive hand picked crew whom are reliant upon trusting each other and the collective actions therein. The pots from this most recent firing show off the love they received before, during and after the firing, including some of the best pots of my entire career.