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" Woden" - Wood Fired Kiln - The Twenty-sixth Firing!

This page records the 26th firing of the Woden kiln on 6th April 2019. It is an archive of photographs taken before, during and after the firing.

The tunnel from the main chamber into the base of the chimney was rebuilt, to close gaps and provide a better system for sliding a kiln shelf down a slot at the end of the firing to close it off and prevent rapid cooling. Bricks were used from Bill's recently dismantled electric kiln (which he bought in 1976, so it had done well!).

Thanks to Janine for her steeplejill work, the chimney is now three courses higher and the old riddle (sieve) has been removed from the top of the chimney.

The existing kiln shelves, which had been bought from the Poole Pottery when it went into receivership a while ago, had started to bend and break and spall off bits of ash glazed undersurface. So a new set was ordered from The Acme Batt Co. www.facebook.com/acmebattco/
These were 1" thick, cut to the same dimensions. They were coated with batt wash, a mixture of china clay and aluminia hydrate..

The surface of the HTI brickwork of the kiln chamber was beginning to become a bit crusty, especially where the flames came in up the corners and across some of the arch roof. This was the effect of the ash on the brick, forming a glaze-like layer which then becomes loose and falls off in small bit into the pots below. So these areas were tapped and loose bits hacked away. Hopefully there will remain a sufficent thickness of brick for a while yet!

Adam is the VIP guest potter for this firing, we bought the original kiln materials from him - flat-packed. During his current studio moving he has taken the opportunity to fire some of his pots with us. His suggestions and observations are greatly valued - starting with the idea of leaving a gap down the sides of the chamber, on the opposite end to where the flames come from the fireboxes - thus encouraging a better flow of flames up, across and down through the chamber.

Menu for sections on this Page:-

Making Pots

Loading Pots

Firing Kiln

Unloading Pots


Making Pots -

Richard throwing a tall pot

Richard throwing a tall pot. He made it in two pieces an then flipped one upsidedown and joined them together.

Here he is smoothing out the join and finishing off the shape of the top (which was the bottom of that piece when thrown.)

Bill's Glastonbury Bowls

A batch of Bill's Glastonbury style bowls, drying in his front window.

Glastonbury bowls close up

A close up of a bowl, showing the "Celtic" swirling incised pattern.

The originals were first found a century ago near Glastonbury during the excavation of a lake village on the Somerset Levels.

Carving the curves into leather hard clay is a bit tricky to do without getting kinky lines.

The circles were pushed in when the clay was softer.

They make good serving bowls for soup or salads or whatever!

Thrown urns

Another batch of Bill's urns, just thrown.


Throewn urn close up

Thrown urn - closer up.

These larger than previous vessels were made by preparing 2kg lumps of clay by pinching into a rough shape, with a groove around the base, they were then placed on top of a 4kg thrown base, the groove helping to locate them symetrically. Then the pinched part was thrown up to for the top few inches, including the collar.

So play "Spot The Join"! Hopefully smoothed over using a rib.


This is Bill's shiny new-to-him Eco-Kiln being fired for the first time, with beakers and "Glastonbury Ware" bowls, the glaze on which behaves so much better when biscuit fired first - rather than raw glazed, like many of the other pots.

The kiln has been named "BrownHilda" after the Norse Lady, to go with Woden, the name of the wood fuelled kiln. It is also a reference to Bill's most popular glaze colour!

Loading Pots

Tidied cabinet

With the arrival of a batch of new heavier kiln shelves, thanks to Walter at Acme Batt Co, the metal cabinet has been cleared out and repacked, with the new shelves at the bottom. After Steve discovered the metal shelves were not strong enough to hold their combined weight - luckily (for him!) none was damaged in the collapse.

More shelves may be added at a later date.

Starting loading

And so the loading starts, with a batch of Bill's large urns.

Batt wash, made from China Clay and Aluminia Hydrate, is being applied by roller all over the new shelves - fairly thinly - to protect them from the attack by ash, which has done for the undersides of the previous shelves, which were not washed below.

back two thirds loaded

Back two thirds loaded with Adam's bowls and urns - a very welcome guest potter, as the original owner of the materials Woden is built out of.

Dumpy bag of queen scallops

A dumpy bag delivery of "Queen Scallops" - 200kg - the smallest amount they sell!




A close up of the shells. About 20,000 - which should last a good few years!

There are quite a few broken shells, which are for sale on special offer! (Make Bill an offer!) Apparently they are used as a soil improver - but maybe not in a chalk rich area like ours!

Steve glazing

Steve busy glazing his pots, using the new patio area that he helped create.

rebuilt tunnel

The rebuilt tunnel, from the kiln chamber to the base of the chimney. Upcycling of Bill's old electric kiln bricks, which he took apart after 42 years of excellent service - thanks Kilns & Furnaces!

Hopefully there will be fewer gaps and thus less loss of chimney pull or short circuiting from the firebox direct into the tunnel.

There is a new design for the closing shelf, used at the end of the firing to block off the chimney to stop rapid cooling, it fits downwards in slots like a medieval castle portcullis gate!

The pizza oven has been redesigned, hopefully to avoid soot entering the oven and providing a useful temperature level.

Steve loading

Steve loading his hand built rectangular tea pots. He has fewer than usual thrown pots, because it has been too cold in his garage for him to work!?

Steve breaking pallets

Steve breaking pallets for fuel.

BAtt washes shelves

Another batch of new shelves treated with battwash resist. Applied with a small roller.

Battwashed shelves

Command control of our spacecraft?!

BAck almost loaded

Back almost loaded.

Janine Steeplejill

Is this a bird looking for a new nesting site?!

No! It's Janine, our tame steeplejill, removing the old riddle (sieve) from the top of the chimney and adding 3 extra courses of bricks - placed without mortar inside the angle iron frame. That should give a bit of a boost to the chimney's draw.

Front loading

Start of loading the front righthand side - Bill's urns, mortaria bowls and beakers.


Finished loading!

Quite a squeeze, but looking good.

The new shelves give a better sense of stability to the stacking.

top loaded

Close up of higher front loaded.


bottom loaded

Close up of lower front loaded.


Bill resting

All bricked up and the front insulation panel in place.

Ready to roll!

Firing Kiln -

early morning kiln

The early morning kiln.

The night had been a bit damp and chilly, with a slight breeze.

The rest of the day was mainly bright and sunny, with some wind from the east.

The overnight stoking was using logs, thanks David (no image of logs below) that burnt slowly, keeping the temperature to about 100C, drying out the kiln structure, the shelves and the pots.

Stoking was speeded up after 6am

first woodpile

The first woodpile, mainly pallets, sawn by the Pallant man using the reciprocating saw.


The second woodpile.

Assorted timbers, builder's waste, pallets, sheds and fences.

3rd woodpile

Third woodpile.

Mainly builder's waste, Thanks Simon!

Not all used in this firing.


513C at 9.15am.

nick and lottie stoking

Trainee stokers Nick and Lottie.


Steve carving

Steve carving his kiln offering.

two talking

Two talking heads?

Enjoying the sunshine on the patio!

Previous cones

Previous pyrometric cones.

These demonstrate the level of heat in the various parts of the kiln chamber. Cones "8" and "9" are used.

Most of these show a higher than needed temperature, although the fairly long firing time and effect of ash fluxing the cones helps them bend sooner, but reflects what is happening to the glazes.



Talking while waiting to stoke the kiln.

Chilling out at noon

Chilling out at noon!

Wondering what to have for lunch?


Steve placing his offering to dry out on top of the oven (which was not used!)

James stoking

Trainee James, stoking.


Steve and Fang.



845C at 1pm

Lunch break

Lunch break.

bill asleep

Bill taking a quick afternoon rest in Nikki's leisure vehicle. Poor lad been overdoing it again!


Various witnesses.



A passing busker, entertaining the visitors.

It's the way you tell em

It's the way you tell 'em!

DAvid stoking

David stoking.

firing crew

The firing crew!


Admiring the chimney!


Richard, the late shift stoker.

Lottie overstoking

Bill and Lottie, maybe a bit of overstoking with all that flame coming back out of the firebox?

Checking the cones

Checking the cones, looking into the spyhole and watching the flames.

bill riffling

Bill riffling - stirring up the embers and ashes with a long metal pole, to promote burning and the spread of ash through the kiln, carried by the flames.


Sparky stoking

Sparky stoking.

Almost midnight, getting very warm.

Temperature hot enough to melt the glazes.

The sparks travelling through the kiln deliver ash specks to colour the pots and glazes.

We riffled the embers and ash more often than usual - to encourage the sparks to fly.

Richard stoking

Richard throwing the last few timbers into the firebox.

Cones at midnight

The cones at midnight!

Just beginning to seriously bend over as the heat increases.

The stoking continued for almost another hour, with the digital reading swinging round about 1200C, which translates to a temperature equivalent of 1260C, as the digital thermometer is out of calibration.

So the top of the kiln must have got a bit hotter than the lower parts, but maybe less difference that usual because of the gaps left around the kiln shelves, rather than them being tight up against the brickwork.

At 1am the chimney was decommissioned, with passive damper bricks removed and the new system of a portcullis type closing off of the tunnel.

Then the fireboxes with closed up and the gap below the doors was filled with bricks.

So an early night for us! Leaving just after 1am.



Unloading Pots -


first peek

The first peek!

Still 150C on Monday morning.

Top bricks of door removed to allow pots to cool a bit more.

top front

The upper section of the chamber revealed when all the door brick removed.

Looking Good!!

bottom front

Lower section.

Most pyrometric cones bent over.

Good reduction.

Great ash sprinkles.

whole front

All the front open.

Very happy potters!

top left

Peering into the top left back corner at Adam's large pots.

top left

Closer view.


One of Birgit's bowls.

Adam's great pot

Adam's great pot.

birgit's bowls

Birgit's bowls.

Wax resist decoration with Bath Potters Shiny White glaze, nicely speckled with ash.

Adam unloading

Adam unloading.


Adam holding up pots

Adam holding up his two great pots.

steve unloading

Steve unloading.


Close up of Adam's pot.


Adam with bowl.

bottom left

Bottom back left side.

Adam's bowls over Bill's urns.


Steve's jugs, slab built and decorated with impressed seaweed, but not just any seaweed!


Steve's - what, teapot?


Steve's container, got the proportions wrong again!

Nice glaze though.


Steve's tea pot, but haven't we seen this already. Guess who got hold of the camera!

nikki grinding

Nikki grinder away the residue of shells on bases.

steve unloading

Steve still unloading.

bill beakers

Bill's beakers packed up ready for export!?

Nice shiny glaze, with flecks.


Most of Bill's pots.

A great batch.

Dale's pots

Dale's pots.

Nice larger platter.

Shame about the cracked dishes and plates.

bill beakers

Bill's beakers washed and drying.

bill's mortarium

Bill's mortarium bowl.

Splendid satin light oatmeal glaze with plenty of ash speckles.

bill glastonbury ware bowls

Bill's Glastonbury Ware bowls.

bill glastyonbury bowls

All of the Glastonbury bowls.







Firing log graph

This is the graph of the firing logs.

This firing is the darkest dots.

Lower temperature preheating overnight = good thing to avoid pots exploding!

Steeper climb up to 1000C

Not too much of a wait to reach 1200 - remembering that the reading of 1200C is actually 1260C at least inside the kiln.


Report and Conclusions

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Comments are very welcome - email Bill Crumbleholme


Thanks to :-


Walter at Acme Batt Co



The Landlord for support and encouragement.

Pottery Class members and other potters for help filling the kiln and then firing and unloading it, especially Steve, Nikki, Birgit, Richard, Nick, David, Sarah, Dale, Petra (and Family), Jane (and family including the busker) and VIP guest Adam.