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  • Tim Scull

About Wood-Fired Kilns

Updated: Sep 10

When you purchase one of my pots from Canton Clay Works, you can rest assured that the creation you’re adding to your home is one-of-a-kind, and it’s something that was created with a lot of dedication, heart, and attention to detail. Whatever piece you choose from my gallery, there is no other exactly like it, and that is because of the unique and distinct techniques I use to craft each pot into a work of art.

Each piece takes a lot of time to create from start to finish, which only further adds to its singularity. Most people may not realize that there are different firing techniques that I use to create my pots, and each technique has its own attributes and process, which makes the finished product even more unique and special. The different methods I use are as follows:

· Wood-Fired

· Raku Fired Vessels

· Saggar Fired Vessels

· Sawdust Fired Vessels

· Gas/Reduction Fired

Today, I’d like to highlight my Wood-Fired kiln technique, which is a practice that has existed for thousands and thousands of years. Wood-fired kilns were typically designed to accommodate the natural resources that were available in different geographic regions of the world.

When wood is used as a fuel, it creates an atmosphere rich with volatilized metals and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and sodium. The vapor from these elements along with the airborne wood ash (fly ash), fuses to the clay bodying and glaze, resulting in a beautiful, timeless, and very unique piece of pottery with deep, rich color tones.

There are actually different types of wood-fired kilns that have been used over hundreds and thousands of years, including Tube Kilns, which were also known as Anagama kilns. Anagama kilns originated in China, but were brought to Japan in the 5th century. The term happens to be the Japanese word for “cave kiln,” and consists of a firing chamber with a fire box at one end and a flue at the other. I recently started using an additional type of wood-fired kiln, a Train Kiln, which is based on the design of the Anagama kiln. Given the fact that it was designed in modern times, it’s much more fuel-efficient and requires less time and energy than its ancient predecessor.

The type of wood-fired kiln I frequently use here at Canton Clay Works, however, is a Naborigama kiln, which is multi-chambered. It was uniquely designed by Will Ruggles, who is a very well-known kiln designer. My Naborigama kiln just so happens to be one of the most frequently fired wood kilns that exists in the United States, as it has been fired over 300 times over the past 18 years.

Creating a wood fired pot in the Naborigama kiln takes quite a bit of time, as the fireboxes in the kiln need to be stoked with wood every 3-5 minutes for a total of 48 hours. It’s the first chamber in the kiln that is responsible for giving the clay body of the pot its coloring, due to the reduction atmosphere. The second chamber of the kiln is called the Salt/Soda chamber, in which the sodium vapors created bond with the silica in the clay body of the pot, which in turn gives it a unique glazed finish. The end result is something to cherish that can be displayed and enjoyed for years to come.

Here are some images of pieces of pottery that were made using my wood-fired kiln technique.

For more details on my wood-fired kiln technique and my wood fired pots, take a look at this video:

https://youtu.be/RhclU4O44DI

*Please note: My gallery at Canton Clay Works is currently open by appointment only, given the COVID-19 pandemic. To schedule a time to come in, please email me at cantonclayworks@yahoo.com, or give me a call at 860-693-1000.

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©2020  Canton Clayworks LLC | Tim Scull  Ceramic Studio | 150 Cherry Brook Rd | 06019 | (860) 693-1000

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Photography by Ron Jaworski & Hunter Neal