The unseasonably warm month of December made for an easier winter firing of Yorel the train kiln last month. Without much snow on the ground, shuttling wares from the studio across the yard to the kiln shed was far more efficient and less jaw clenching than past years, without an icy driveway to navigate.
Firing a wood kiln at any time of year involves troubleshooting multiple variables and presents unique challenges each time. But one challenge that is consistent with every firing, no matter the season, is the crew scheduling. Firing our wood kilns requires a crew of committed and reliable folk. No potter can go it alone, when a single firing lasts anywhere from 48 - 125 hours, or sometimes more if the wood is wet!
Firing shifts are scheduled in 6 hour increments, with typically 2 people on the clock, sometimes more if they are students or newly initiated to the world of woodfiring. Each shift is unique, but generally wood gets stacked and stoked, previous logs are referenced, cones get checked and decisions are contemplated and made, all of course dependent on what the kiln is communicating at any given moment.
We are so grateful and humbled by the support and strength behind our firing crew. Some individuals show up each time, without hesitation, others new to the game come equipped with snacks to share and a million questions to ask. We appreciate everyone that helps us fire our kilns, every time.
This last firing felt especially festive, earmarked for a precursor to the holiday season, we even managed to cook a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings mid-firing! The gift giving and receiving came a week later when we unloaded the kiln and gathered to celebrate the physical results of everyone’s efforts.
Firing a wood kiln is a journey every time. Each firing has its own character and inherent learning that keeps us going. With all the busyness, especially at that time of year, we know many of our crew made special efforts to pull a shift. So one might ask why we would schedule a wood kiln firing the week before Christmas? No one on our crew asked why, they just said, "I can help."
We don't exactly know what drives us to do what we do, but we don't think we have to know. We do know this firing wasn't necessarily about the pottery sales or an upcoming exhibition, this firing was about the weirdness ... and love, bringing people together in a festive time to contribute to a constructive process that brings more beauty into the world. It was about all the conversations around the firebox. The process in all, with its many facets and moving parts, keeps teaching or facilitating something that hopefully we each find meaning from.
Happy New Year!
Kiln logs are often the most under-appreciated studio tool, and yet one of the most essentials when it comes to keeping track of what has been done in the past.