These pieces are fired in an anagama-style wood-fired kiln. Anagamas are tunnel shaped kilns, also sometimes known as hill kilns because they are built on an upward sloping incline to improve draft inside the kiln during firing. Anagamas date back many centuries and were first used in Asia, where they were able to achieve high temperatures necessary to produce fine porcelain.
Anagama kilns are usually quite large. The kiln I fire in takes two days just to load, and holds about 200 pots. Each piece must be wadded with a refractory material to lift it off the kiln shelf, then carefully placed with regard to flame patterns and ash flow. Wood fired pieces do not typically have glaze applied the outside surface, although the interiors will have a liner glaze. The sheen, flashing and colorations you see on the surface of these pots is totally due to fine ash which is carried on the flames and distributed throughout the kiln, landing on the pots where it melts. Wood firings are a team effort; ours usually take place over a 72 to 96 hour period, can reach temperatures in excess of 2400 degrees and can use up to six cords of wood. The kiln is then slow-cooled for up to a week before opening to reveal the treasures within. Due to the high temperature firing, wood fired work is highly functional and is microwave, oven, refrigerator and even freezer-safe. It can be washed in the dishwasher, but I always hand wash my prized pieces.
Wood fired pottery is relatively rare due to the expense and scope of the kilns and firing efforts. It is difficult to appreciate their true beauty from photographs. Please see my show schedule for dates to view this work personally.
Enjoy! Beverly Curtis