Porcelain vase with dimpled pattern. The affects of heat and flames on the bare porcelain surface create a bright orange, while the accumulation of wood ash melting onto the pot create a dark, speckled effect. The falling ash accumulated on each dimple. The 'Blue Star' is a part of the surface that had chipped off and left a blue glow around the mark.
About the October Wood Firing:
I attended the October wood firing workshop at the Community Arts Center in Pennsylvania. The process of wood firing differs from the popular ceramics process which is done in an electric kiln; wood firing is a meticulous and incredibly distinct craft that reveals organic, unique surfaces that rely on wood ash. First, my pots are bisque fired in an electric kiln. Then, some are glazed with a high temperature glaze. I do not glaze the entire piece because I want to show the natural qualities of how the firing process affects the bare porcelain.
Every single piece must be wadded and properly prepared to enter the kiln. The pieces are stilted so the ash and glaze does not melt and cause the pots to stick to the silica carbide kiln shelves. The piece's orientation, spacing, and location in the kiln will affect its outcome. Every piece is methodically placed in the kiln to achieve the best results for everyone, not just one person.
Our supply of wood is split and stacked, and we continue to split wood even while on shift stoking flames. Each shift requires you to split wood, check the different areas of the kiln and change it accordingly... does this brick need to be repositioned? Does the firebox require larger peices of wood? Each stoking is timed. At one point I was inserting 10 pieces of wood in one stoke hole, 8 in the other, every 10 minutes. Our hours run into the night as we fire the kiln for three days, and adequate rest is not always an option. We maintain the distribution of heat in the kiln and control how quickly temperature climbs. We reach over 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, then allow the temperature to drop over the course of a few days.
The kiln is then unloaded, complete with the shelves, wadding, and pots.
After a week, I make the trip once more to Pennsylvania to pack up each pot and wrap it securely. After the pots are brought back to my studio in Brooklyn, I clean, sand, and polish each and every piece. Some will be refired with real gold luster.
You can watch my brief video on this firing on Youtube:
It's a lot harder than it appears, but absolutely worth all the effort. For this reason, my wood firing trips are few and far between. Each pot is unique and serve as reminders of the trip.