After nearly thirty years of functional potting, and several detours to try different firing techniques, I’ve finally settled into two similar, yet distinct techniques, gas fired reduction firing, and wood-firing, in a traditional Anagama kiln.
The gas kiln gives me to control to fire pots, and achieve the same surfaces over and over, with little variation, while the wood-kiln lets the kiln have more of a say in the final decorative result, due to the nature of the fuel, and the placement of the pots in the kiln.
When I get ready to fire the gas kiln, I have a palette of about six glazes, and 5 slips that allow a wide variation of surface. However, in the wood-kiln, I limit myself to three slips, and one glaze, since the nature of the kiln allows for so much more random patterning, and finish. I also allow pieces destined for the wood-kiln to be a little looser in design, and a little more casual in approach
Do I prefer on technique over the other? Well, let me say that while the gas kiln is less labor-intensive, and easier to load and fire, the wood-kiln provides effects that are unique to each piece, and an atmosphere of communal work towards similar gains. Each firing eventually becomes a social event, and allows contact with other people involved in the process that you don’t get working as an individual artisan.
Add to the mix some alternative ways of forming the pieces, such as using extrusions as both forms and additions, and I’ve set myself up to be very busy as I try to exhaust all of the options open to me.
Hope you like the pieces.
– Tom Hubbell