wood-firing in Devon part four – the big reveal


at last, here they are, the ones we were being so careful not to hit with firewood or push the ember bed into. and all the rest behind.


the thing to do is to put them all out roughly in the same order and placing as they were in the firing, so that you can see what happened where in the kiln. it’s very useful to have a large gravelled drive for this.


straight away I can see from Pete’s photos (I couldn’t be there) that all mine are darker than the rest. that’s because I didn’t do what I was told and make pots from a high firing off-white stoneware clay like St Thomas’s white, I took pots from my production over the past year, which have mostly been made from buff bodies with higher iron content. even the pizza oven building clay I used for the two extra large bottles has fired pretty dark, which it doesn’t do in the gas kiln, normally it’s a light grey.


the other thing I didn’t do was to glaze them, much. this big bottle in the centre is the one which had black iron oxide painted on it, which I thought might just evaporate off – or the ash would form a glaze over it. but there is not enough ash to do that except at the front or under a stokehole. the bowl had black oxide too. on the top right there’s a smaller bottle which was made in the pink grogged stoneware, so I expected that to come out pretty cooked.


this one is like a rich dark christmas pudding. the specks of iron in the lavafleck clay that I mixed with crank for this body have melted and formed bigger metallic spots on the surface. it looks like it got some ash too.


I think this one must have been the pink grogged stoneware too. not as black as Nic’s Meeth clay, a red devon ball clay local to him.


here’s one I glazed, with a celadon.


in the very foreground are two of my bottles which were in the less hot part of the kiln, nearer the back, with lovely flame-licked rusty colours. behind Poppy the springer are two of Nic’s big flasks, and on those you can see what happens when a lot of ash meets glaze. I think this will be a shino, a thick white-ish glaze. Carin’s coiled bottle is a gorgeous combination of rusty clay colour and celadon, and you can see one of Chris’s shell-studded glazed bottles too. he brought his own glazes, and used them rather than Nic and Sabina’s. I would love to try out my chun another time, if I could find room for it.


this must be the bottle that was on its back under the side stokehole. plastered with blackened ash and cinder. the back is just rich brown clay. lightly scarred with shells – it was supported on them.


you can see it on the left in this photo, a dribble of ash creeping around its shoulder. the smaller bottle on the right is the one made in the pink grogged clay, with shino poured down one side. by contrast the two smaller whitish pots have a surface layer of porcelain, and have remained pretty dry but extra cooked dry.


a group photo of most of my pots from the firing, (thank you Pete Pears for taking these and posting them on facebook) a lot of naked clay roasted to rusty black, and some with liberal ash dribbles. if I had glazed them with shino they might have been lighter green, but I’m not sure, must ask Nic about that. I expect I will need to do a lot of cleaning wads off with my Drexel drill.


saving the best photo for last – it might not be the best pot, but it certainly makes a dramatic photo, all the better for the understated pinks greens and greys of Nic’s platter behind. I want to do this again next year, use more glaze, and be more precise about what I’m doing with it. now I have to wait nearly three weeks until I can actually see the pots.





  1. So interesting! Bummer you couldn’t be their for the opening, but just think of the anticipation of actually getting you hands on them after seeing the photos!! :O

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