Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wood Fire Spectacular: An Early Morning Chat with Kiln Feeders

Photo via Dave Sturm

A big occasion in the ceramics community is happening right now. Artists from KU, The Lawrence Arts Center, and regional artists, are firing ceramic pieces in wood fed kilns that take days to fire.  Artists labor over these precious kilns to achieve a unique finish and glaze.  Even in the overnight hours, smoke is seen from blocks away from where the kilns are located by Chamney Barn off 15th street.  The kilns have been in production since Wednesday. 

We wanted to check out this scene and thought it would be fun to talk to the 4-8 am kiln feeding shift. It is a chilly 32 degrees, but the fire from the kilns makes the temperature tolerable. Many kilns are going at once.  We witness the process of the feeding which requires intuitive as well as scientific knowledge about the desired temperature inside the kiln.  Temperature can be adjusted by methods such as the adjustment of dampers which control air flow and regulate the kiln's atmosphere. 

One hand built kiln is called "The Performance Kiln".  We talked to its creator, Sam, whom is inside his tent.  We are told that this kiln will be taken apart tonight to reveal a pure ball of red fire.  This kiln gets very hot, reaching a temperature of up to a cone 10 (which is the hottest degree ceramic ware is fired, over 2, 500 degrees). 

 The work will be pulled from the kilns tonight in a culminating event. 

The Performance Kiln

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