Process

Process

I use a stoneware clay from St Amand en Puisaye a village close to La Borne, in France. This clay has traditionally been used to make wood fired salt glaze pots, tiles and bricks. The combination of flame, ash deposits and salt vapour passing through the kiln, fires the clay subtle shades of light grey through to dark brown. Different colours and textures are made by applying slips when the pots are leather hard. Slips are a mixture of unfired clays, minerals and water, sometimes with oxides added.

I was a student on the ‘Studio Pottery’ course at Harrow College of Art where I learnt production throwing and gained experience in all aspects of running a studio pottery; making a kick wheel and my own tools; mixing clay and building and firing a wood salt kiln. I use a continental kick wheel and an electric wheel for larger pots. I make pots in small series, creating the same form in various sizes and exploring the relationships between them. I think of them as families of pots all differing slightly. We built the current wood firing kiln in 2017. We fire 4-5 times a year with each firing taking between 18-24 hours depending on whether we are salt glazing or not.

It takes approximately two months to fill the kiln’s one cubic metre packing space. The pots are decorated with coloured slips (a mixture of unfired clays, minerals and water, sometimes with oxides added.) They are then left to dry until we have enough pots finished to fill and fire the kiln. We stoke the kiln slowly and carefully at the beginning of the firing but by the end we are stoking almost continuously. When the kiln reaches 1250°C we introduce 3kg of sea salt over a period of a couple of hours. The salt becomes a vapour and the sodium fuses with the silica in the clay to form a thin and hard glaze “salt glaze” making the pots very durable and suitable for daily use. We fire to 1300C and then we leave the kiln to cool for three days before opening it.

I am also exploring the process of wood firing without the introduction of any new salt. Every few firings we will fire without introducing any new salt. There will be some residual effects from the build-up of salt on the inside of the chamber left in the kiln from previous firings.

I have been wood firing and salt glazing throughout my career but started exploring the aesthetic of firing without salt and just relying on the fly ash on the clay surface, during the years of firing pots in the firebox of my previous kiln. I am currently using a Limoges Porcelain and enjoying the drier surfaces, soft pink tones and light fly ashed surfaces.

Process

Process

I use a stoneware clay from St Amand en Puisaye a village close to La Borne, in France. This clay has traditionally been used to make wood fired salt glaze pots, tiles and bricks. The combination of flame, ash deposits and salt vapour passing through the kiln, fires the clay subtle shades of light grey through to dark brown. Different colours and textures are made by applying slips when the pots are leather hard. Slips are a mixture of unfired clays, minerals and water, sometimes with oxides added.

I was a student on the ‘Studio Pottery’ course at Harrow College of Art where I learnt production throwing and gained experience in all aspects of running a studio pottery; making a kick wheel and my own tools; mixing clay and building and firing a wood salt kiln. I use a continental kick wheel and an electric wheel for larger pots. I make pots in small series, creating the same form in various sizes and exploring the relationships between them. I think of them as families of pots all differing slightly. We built the current wood firing kiln in 2017. We fire 4-5 times a year with each firing taking between 18-24 hours depending on whether we are salt glazing or not.

It takes approximately two months to fill the kiln’s one cubic metre packing space. The pots are decorated with coloured slips (a mixture of unfired clays, minerals and water, sometimes with oxides added.) They are then left to dry until we have enough pots finished to fill and fire the kiln. We stoke the kiln slowly and carefully at the beginning of the firing but by the end we are stoking almost continuously. When the kiln reaches 1250°C we introduce 3kg of sea salt over a period of a couple of hours. The salt becomes a vapour and the sodium fuses with the silica in the clay to form a thin and hard glaze “salt glaze” making the pots very durable and suitable for daily use. We fire to 1300C and then we leave the kiln to cool for three days before opening it.

I am also exploring the process of wood firing without the introduction of any new salt. Every few firings we will fire without introducing any new salt. There will be some residual effects from the build-up of salt on the inside of the chamber left in the kiln from previous firings.

I have been wood firing and salt glazing throughout my career but started exploring the aesthetic of firing without salt and just relying on the fly ash on the clay surface, during the years of firing pots in the firebox of my previous kiln. I am currently using a Limoges Porcelain and enjoying the drier surfaces, soft pink tones and light fly ashed surfaces.

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