John Baymore at River Bend Pottery

River Bend Pottery   © 1995 - 2011 All Rights reserved

 

 

JOHN’S NOBORIGAMA

Loading the wares into the kiln is an arduous and exacting process.   Wood ash floating thru the kiln and landing on the wares and melting can cause pieces to stick to the kiln shelves.  Anything with a lid can also have the lid stick to the form.   So each piece needs to be placed on protective “wadding” or a “cookie” of a refractory material that will not allow this to happen.  Compared to the loading process for kilns not fueled by wood, this adds many hours of work.

 

Then the process of selecting the specific locations and the sides of the pieces that will “face” the brunt of the flames begins.  The wood fire helps to decorate the pieces, and the choices of exactly how the pieces are places is part of the “glazing” process.

 

One of the most backbreaking parts of the process is bricking up the doors of the kiln before starting the fire.  After the vast amount of work that it takes to glaze and stack the five chambers, one is suddenly presented with having to move about 500 8 pound bricks into place.  At this point, being tired is already a factor.  It takes about 5 to 6 hours of hard focused work to get  the doors all in place,

 

 

The Firing Itself

 

In most cases, the firing is actually started simultaneously as the last of the doors for chamber three and four are being bricked in.  A small gas pilot burner is lit in the bottom of the main firebox.  This begins the necessary slow drying out process that simply cannot be rushed.  At the same time, a small charcoal fire is started in the base of the chimney at the top of the kiln.  This fire heating the chimney helps to assure a good draft through the kiln right from the start.

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Many pieces for a firing are stacked unglazed, and are decorated by melting fly ash from the wood fire.  These are the most special and prized pieces  Glazing and decorating of other work for a firing takes four to five long days. The multi-chamber design of the kiln allows each chamber to be fired slightly differently, so ware is glazed based on the chamber into which it will go.