Anagama Kiln Firings

The date of our next firing is October 20 - 22, 2017; Unloading: October 28

The Hambidge Center is once again firing its Anagama kiln this October. All potters are invited to participate in this 3-day event. Led by Rick Berman and Vernon Smith, we will start glazing and loading on Friday, October 20th at 9:00a.m. Firing will begin that evening and continue through Sunday afternoon.

All participants are expected to measure, glaze and wad their own pieces, help with the loading, as well as take at least one shift stoking wood and to help move and stack firewood. The day of the pick up, everyone is expected to help unload the kiln, scrape kiln shelves, put away tools and glazes as well as stack firewood for the next firing. When there are many hands, it is not too much work for anyone.

As a general guide, participants should bring at least 2000 cubic inches of work to fire (HxWxD). Platters and large bowls are discouraged, but there’s usually plenty of room for cylindrical shapes under 9”. All your work may not get in, but every effort is made to be fair with the available space. There will be glazes available (celadon, tenmoku and shinos), as well as some flashing slips to glaze your pieces before loading.  Please feel free to bring some of your own Cone 10 glazes to experiment with. Needless to say, your pieces must be made with Cone 10 clay and bisque fired.


REGISTRATION

Cost: There is a $100 participation fee for the Anagama Firing, which includes up to 2000 cubic inches of space in the kiln. There is a 1¢ per cubic inch fee for extra pieces, if we can fit them in.

How to Register:
Sign up on this on-line form by 12pm, Tuesday, August 1, letting us know you would like to participate. Signing up does NOT guarantee you a place in the firing. You are just putting your name in the hat.

There are 15 available spaces for the firing, of 25 total participants (10 invited seasoned wood firers - experienced people who have been chosen to help each shift go smoothly, so that everyone will have a fun and safe firing with beautiful pieces to take home). If there are more than 15 people that sign up (and there almost certainly will be), a lottery type drawing system will be used to determine the participants. You will be notified about whether or not you have a place in the firing no later than August 8. If you do get a spot, you will register and pay the workshop fee at this time.

There is space on the lawn for free camping and plenty of hotels nearby in Dillard and Clayton. Click here for a list of nearby accommodations. The Hambidge Center also offers beds at its Walnut Hill Studio for $40/night. These are shared bedrooms (two twin-sized beds in each room), shared bathroom and kitchen, but it’s always a lot of fun. Contact Christine at center@hambidge.org.

Note: This event is open to the public. If you simply want to attend in order to watch and learn, you may do so for free, and no registration is required. Stop by the Weave Shed Gallery to get directions for walking up to the kiln.

Schedule:

Friday, October 20            
9:00AM - Begin glazing and stacking, sign up for a shift
6:00PM - Propane burner; Later that evening start wood stoking

Saturday, October 21  
Stoking, stoking, and more stoking until cone 10 is down
                     
Sunday, October 22
Around noon - Finish stoking and brick up door

Saturday, October 28
10:00AM - Un-brick door, clean firebox and unload pieces. Clean-up, scrape shelves, general cleaning of studio and grounds             


For directions and frequently asked questions click here.
For more information contact Christine at 706-746-7324 or email center@hambidge.org.

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Our anagama kiln was built in the early 1990s by Ben Owen III, a third generation Seagrove, North Carolina potter. The kiln was built with design elements of a traditional Japanese anagama and a traditional southern groundhog kiln. The coming together of these seemingly distinct pottery traditions has played a part in the recent nicknaming of the kiln as the “Confluence Kiln” (gouryuugama in Japanese). 

The kiln acts as the focal point for the coming together or confluence of diverse styles of pottery and sculpture as well as the coming together of an ever widening group of potters from throughout the southeast and recently from as far away as Texas. With the beautiful grounds of the Hambidge Center as the background, the kiln provides a great opportunity for community building among clay artists while at the same time giving first hand experiences of the marvels of the wood firing process. The firing of the kiln over a three day weekend provides potters with the unique opportunity to experience all facets of a wood firing. (Read more and see photos below.)

Today the kiln is fired 2-4 times a year with a group of at least 15 potters. The event is open to anyone who wants to learn more and see the kiln in action.

Click on any image below to view a slide show of a previous firing.

Previous

More about the Anagama technique:
The process begins at about 9:00am on Friday morning when people start arriving and glazing pots. As the pots are glazed, the loading begins at about 11:00am and lasts until about 6:00pm. The kiln holds between 300 and 400 pots depending on the sizes. The back of the kiln is loaded with glazes that mature at about 2250 degrees and won’t require much ash. Each pot is placed on three wads of a clay-like mixture that will prevent the pots from sticking to the shelves due to ash buildup or glaze runs. The pots loaded in the front of the kiln will be exposed to the greatest amount of flame and ash. These pots can exceed 2380 degrees in temperature. The very front of the kiln is considered the “high risk – high reward” area of the kiln, because these pots will show the greatest effects from the fire, but also have the chance of warping or having the glazes run too much. This is the area of the kiln with the greatest buildup of ash as well.

At about 6:00pm the door is bricked up leaving an opening so wood can be thrown into the firebox. We begin the lighting process by having a reading and thanking everyone for coming to the firing. It is a good community building part of the weekend and allows us to share some thoughts about the tradition of wood firing. A propane burner is used for about two hours to dry the kiln out and begin the slow rise in temperature. Wood is introduced into the kiln at about 9:00pm and will be added every 5-10 minutes until the firing is complete sometime Sunday morning, usually around 8:00am. At the end of the firing, the kiln is sealed and allowed to cool for the entire week. Even after a full week, there is some residual heat in the kiln. The amount of wood used for each firing varies greatly depending on the type of wood, the age of the wood, and the weather conditions. We use anywhere from 1½ to 2 cords of wood per firing.

The Anagama process is different from other firing processes in the variability produced by the kiln. As the flame and wood ash move through the kiln they produce an amazing number of variables on each pot. Each pot tells a story of its place in the kiln and the story of the firing. Pots have a very definite front and back when they come out of an Anagama. As much as we try and control the variables, the firings are always different and produce results we could not have imagined. An Anagama firing walks a fine line between chaos and control, and the pots have a much more organic feel when they are fired in an Anagama. The diversity of results that comes from these firings is what wood firing potters prize in their pots.