The kiln is important enough to me to warrant its own page on my website as it is my most important tool and the firing is part of my creative process. My preference is to fire with wood and soda, where the passage of the flame over the pieces creates the glaze and develops the surfaces. How the kiln is fired and where each piece is place in the ware chamber has an enormous effect upon the work.

Crash cooling the wood fire kiln
inside the kiln
inside the firing chamber…one pot has melted!

In 2020 there was be the biggest leap forward in my work practice since I set up Northshore Pottery in 1993, as this is the year that I finished building my wood fired soda kiln.

It took 2 years planning, 2 years to build. I have moved very slowly with the building as I am a novice brick layer, and with every layer of bricks there has been aspects of the design to mull over. Like a giant 3 dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

The kiln is cross draught. It has a catenary arch and large internal firebox, two stoke holes and numerous soda ports. It is loosly based on the ancient Japanese anagama kilns, but with just one chamber, rather than multiple chambers rising up a hiilside.

The last kiln was a down draught soda kiln and was sadly on its last legs, and badly in need of decommissioning.

This is the first brick kiln that I have built but I have had some valuable experience building sculpture kilns. I have utilized my sculpture making technique of mixing clay with organics to make clay kilns. The labarynth of holes that are formed when plant materials burn out form an insulating blanket with in the clay walls.

The first kiln was a simple bottle kiln which a feature event at the Yarrows prehistory festival in 2016. The shape of the interior was such that the gasses from the firing where forced down by the curves on the top of the firing chamber, and so the temperature achieved was 1300 rather than the maximum of 1000 for an updraught kiln.

In 2017 I built a double chamber cross draught kiln with the shape of a double dome. This was a good lead into the brick kiln that I am building now, and is situated in the pottery garden behind the studio. Both chambers achieved 1300 and some good pieces came out of it.