wood-firing in Devon part 3 – the big kiln


packing this kiln took us four days. perhaps the very back part was the slowest, as it had to be packed tightly to stop the heat escaping too quickly.


we were fortified by Sabine’s marvellous meals


every prop, shelf and pot had to be separated by wads of clay and alumina, Tim is seen licking these to make them stick to the pots in the top photo.


some were made into sandwiches with scallop shells – the lime in the shell stopes them sticking – for pots to rest on sideways.


like this one of mine, which is lying right under a stoke hole. if it doesn’t break, it will end up with an amazing coating of ash on its upper side.


finding pots the same size to fit under the shelves was a headache. normally a potter makes sizes to fit the props and shelves, but we all brought pots of completely different sizes and shapes. there’s a listening pod of mine in the top right, and on the left covered in black iron oxide, is one of my really huge bottles, next to a bottle of Chris’s, then another tall bottle of mine, in red clay with shino poured on it, which I am hoping has come out black and the glaze a metallic sheen.


Pete and Chris did the last part of the packing, the very large cylinder is Pete’s.


another layer, not quite the last


this lot will get the brunt of the ember bed


and the other side


on the afternoon of the fourth day the wicket was bricked up, leaving two stoke holes, some mouse holes for air, and a big spy hole, and small fires were lit outside the stoke holes to lead the heat into the kiln gradually.


Chris, Pete, Tim, and Carin unloading wood. this is pine, the small section and barked trimmings from the saw mill. almost impossible to get hold of these days, most saw mills make their waste into wood pellets for biomass energy.


overnight the fires were moved into the stokeholes. Tim and I had the “graveyard shift” two am to six am. the temperature went down to three degrees centigrade and we were very cold. at this point very little heat was given out by the kiln.


the next morning the next shift were feeding the long wood into the front stoke holes to build up the ember bed in the firebox. caution had to be taken, flinging it in violently would break those pots at the front, or at least push them over. as the ember bed built up, stoking became a very hot job which had to be done quickly but with great care.


smoke at the chimney


another night shift, more comfortable this time as the heat built up …


Tilda the kiln dog, attached during my shift to make sure she didn’t wander off into the alpaca paddock .. at least she was warmer than in the tent.


looking to see if cone nine had gone over in the front (that’s 1230C or so)


stoking at the side doors as well as the front


things beginning to get exciting now, on the third day.


Nic checking cones at the back, using the light reflected by an iron bar in the heat


on the fourth day, using up that ember bed as rocket fuel, the mouse holes opened to let oxygen in.


Nic side-stoking. the beams above have to be sprayed with a hose to stop them catching alight.


now the temperature is up Nic throws hardwood ash into the front. pine ash gives khaki greens; hard wood ash is prettier.


flame at the chimney

chirs stoking

Chris side stoking – you need to be tall …


a special breakfast, just what you need after nights stoking … Sabine’s birthday too …


at last, the cones have gone over in the back, it’s time to clam up, cooling in reduction.


all done, now for the party!


just a taste – the kiln was opened today, but I couldn’t be there …




One Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.