Anagama Kiln Firing - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Hambidge Center?
For more than 80 years, the Hambidge Center has been nurturing creative talents within the arts and sciences at our 600-acre creative sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Eight individuals are in residence at any given time – each has private accommodations and studio space, and shares communal dinners prepared by an in-residence chef. The public is invited to the Center on Saturdays for a series of programs that include artist talks, nature hikes, gristmill visits, weaving demonstrations, gallery openings and other special events.

Where can I stay?
There are several places to stay near the Hambidge Center. Find a list here. 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 Plus there’s always camping on the grounds at Hambidge!

Is camping allowed?
Of course! Several of us have spent one or more nights in our cars or in pitched tents...though it’s nice to have a shower to go to after a long smoky shift.

Why is the fee $100?
Your fee buys glaze materials, firebrick, kiln shelves, firewood, grinding discs, chainsaw chains, and propane, plus the time and talent of the workshop leaders.

What kind of clay should I use?
You MUST use a clay body that is rated to cone 10. If you have something you are not sure about, remember that if your pot explodes, it could ruin a lot of other people’s work. There's always something that breaks, but why increase the odds? If you have an experimental glaze or clay, please save it for your own firing.  

Do I have to bisque fire my pieces ?
YES! You MUST bisque fire your pieces. Despite all of the precedent set around the world with once-fired ceramics, there is a lot that can go wrong with greenware. So, to keep everyone's work safe and happy, it all has to be bisqued before it gets to go into the anagama.

Why does it start so early?
Whew! We have a lot to do to get the kiln loaded and ready to fire. A three day firing is actually a pretty quick pace, but since everyone needs to measure, then glaze, then put wadding on their pots, and then help load lots of kiln shelves, it’s usually 6:00 pm before the kiln is lit. We want to give the pots as much fire and ash as we can before everyone has to go home.

Can I pick where my pieces go?
It seems like everyone has “the place” they want their pieces to go. In order to be fair, we will have special “markers” for your pieces. When you turn in your measurements and payment, you will get ONE marker to put on the piece you want to have in the front few rows (this is not a guarantee but we’ll do our best), and there will be markers for pieces that HAVE to go in the back (but you have to get them ready BEFORE the back is loaded!). Everything else will go where it fits best. To be fair to everyone, if you show up late in the day with lots of stuff, you may not get your work in the kiln at all...the earlier arrivals who have been working all day will have their work placed before yours.

If I don't have anything to fire, can I come anyway?
Of course! Just drop on by...the best times are all day Saturday and Saturday night.
What glazes will be available?
Glazes can vary from firing to firing depending on available materials and well as how much is left over of a particular glaze from the last firing or whether or not one was successful. You can count on a variety of shino and celadon glazes and a few flashing slips to be there, as well as a few experimental ones that very kind people bring for you to try.

What do I have to do during the firing?
All participants are expected to measure, glaze and wad their own pieces, as well as take at least one shift stoking wood and to help move and stack firewood during the day on the firing weekend. The weekend of the pickup, everyone is expected to help unload the kiln, scrape kiln shelves, and help 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. Just jump in and lend a hand. During the actual firing when it is your shift, you must stoke wood, and keep hourly notes of what you are doing in the kiln log. It is also mandatory that you HAVE FUN!

What are the facilities like at Hambidge?
The hard truth is...port-o-potty for all involved... unless you're a lucky guy who can wander off and talk to a tree or you have a hotel room to run back to. So bring your handy wipes and be courteous of your wood firing compatriots. There is also a lack of parking at the kiln site, so everyone will be expected to leave their cars at the bottom of the hill unless they are being used to haul wood or as a pottery shuttle. There IS electrical power at the kiln AND in the glaze studio. There is also well water and a sink (very GOOD well water!) but no hot water. Usually someone brings a coffee maker or a hot kettle. There are recycling facilities, and trails to hike on, but Hambidge is home for several resident artists and their cabins and other buildings are not open to anyone involved with the firing unless they personally invite you in advance.

Am I required to chop and move wood?
Move...yes. Everyone has to pull their weight in this regard, though there are usually enough hands present to make it a fun “wood brigade” for about 15 minutes at a time.
Cutting, but we'd like you to if you can.

Am I expected to clean up at the kiln opening?
Yes, the least fun part of wood firing is cleaning up kiln wash, melted glaze and ash from the kiln shelves, and stacking everything back the way it needs to be for the next one. But if everyone helps, it doesn’t take long. You should bring a dust mask...preferably a respirator type, safety glasses, work gloves (and an angle grinder if you have one - with MASONRY grinding discs.) Kneepads are nice for kneeling in the kiln.

How do I get there?
The address is 105 Hambidge Court, Rabun Gap GA 30568
It is located in the NE corner of GA, just north of Clayton, GA and south of Franklin NC.

Please note:  For everyone’s safety, NO alcohol is allowed while on shift or during the two hours prior to your shift.

NO PETS ARE ALLOWED, so please do NOT bring them. Thanks!