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" Woden" - Wood Fired Kiln - The 29th Firing!

This page records the 29th firing of the Woden kiln in August 2020. It is an archive of photographs taken before, during and after the firing.

A welding repair had been done by Luke on the firebox doorframe, which had bent with the repeated heatings. The tunnel from kiln chamber to chimney was rebuilt. Richard and Bill also repair and refurbished some of the ceramic fibre insulation panels. A new strip of ceramic fibre was laid along the top of the door weighed down with the last row of bricks, to fill the gap between the door bricks and and the arch.


Menu for sections on this Page:-

Making Pots

Loading Pots

Firing Kiln

Unloading Pots


Making Pots -

march bowls Bill started throwing bowls in March 2020.
These were to be used for a new batch of glazes, fired in various kilns to see the difference.
These bowls are inspired by Iron Age Black Burnished Ware.
Porcelain bowls Bill attempted to throw his first porcelain bowls.
A bit wonky here and there!
These were also fired in various kilns.
glaze tests Bill's pots with glaze tests applied.
spirals Bill also prepared some paper clay, using eggbox trays in the clay slip. This was dried on hessian sacks stretched over plywood. A previously carved wooden printing block was impressed into the sheets to reproduce the triple spiral patterns found in prehistoric stone carvings, such as at New Grave chambered tomb in Ireland. The slabs were then cut out and assembled.
nikki's shells Nikki prepared a batch of clay stuffed seashells, which are placed under each pot in the kiln to stop them sticking to the shelves, so hundreds are needed.
Belinda owl Belinda glazing her owl totem.
Made from found clay, with ash based glaze from her wood stove.
Richard's pots drying At last Richard has thrown some pots!

Loading Pots

1st day load The first day's loading.
Bill's urns and slab pots, Nick Jackson's beakers and sculpture, Caroline Sharp's vessels.
2nd day loading 2nd day loading.
Birgit's bowls.
3rd day load 3rd day load.
Bill's porcelain tests.
A few of Nikki's recent wares - mugs, bowls, shallow dishes etc etc etc.
Belinda loading Belinda loading her pieces in the kiln.
Belinda loading Still loading.
Going for a level 2 certificate in kiln packing?!
half front packed Slowing filling up.

front view half packed

Front section half packed.
glaze tests A few of Bill's bowls with new glazes being tested.
Vomit pot One of Bill's vases thrown in two parts.
Glazed using the "vomit" dripping technique, with a selection of glazes run over the pot when held sideways.
3/4 loaded 3/4 loaded?
Looking OK!
pharoah going in Bill loading Tussi's pharoah sculpture.
pharoah going in The head is being lowered onto an array of flat oyster shells.
pharoah in Action photography by Lottie!
pharoah in place Pharoah in position, overlooking the kiln chamber and hopefully bringing a god king's blessing.
side loaded All looking neat and tidy.
all loaded Fully loaded.
Maybe Bill got a bit too clever with an assortment of small shelves to fill the spaces around the pharoah and the large vomit pot.

Not so many tall thin pots in this firing, so a bit of juggling needed to fill the spaces.
top left loaded Top left loaded.
Sarah Gee's & Martin's last minute additions.
top right loaded Top right loaded.

A few more of Bill's test glazes, including the slab built paper clay spiralled containers, nestled around the pharoah.
On the top shelf is the first well behaved glaze Bill has made using ash, gleaned from the bonfire he had at Beltain, a mix of pruned ivy and bay tree, with added sawdust.
lower loaded The bottom of the chamber loaded.
With almost  more pots than Bill, Nikki achieved level 4 training in wood kiln loading, subject to regrading as a level 3 by the authorities?!
Nick also gets an honourable mention for loading Caroline's very narrow based vessels (in the back section, not visible here, can be seen in the first image of this loading section)
bricked up All bricked up and ready to fire.

A new strip opf ceramic fibre was inserted below the top layer of bricks, to block the gap between the door and arch.

Richard had helped Bill repair and refurbish some of the ceramic fibre insulation panels, so coupled with a rewelded firebox door frame and rebuilt tunnel into the chimney, it is hoped there will be an improved performance.

The only outstanding item of repair is reroofing, doing away with the "skylight" where the corrugated iron has burnt and rusted away.

Firing Kiln -

lounger Bill's overnight lounger! A very pleasant night under the clouds (rather than stars!)
The kiln was preheated with the large barked planks with a few small bits of wood from 4pm Friday to 5am Saturday.
fire blanket Bill posing with the fire blanket!
gloves All the stokers had their own gloves, suitably named, to cut down infection and general yuck factor!
Lottie Lottie and her dad (and Dory the car!) posing before a long night preheating!
Lottie stoking Lottie learning to stoke gently with big logs - she has only been in action in towards the end of the firing before.
breakfast Bill's early morning cup of tea, then cereal!
After a pleasant night keeping the home fires burning.
flames Flames from the top corner of the kiln chamber.
Each time new wood is inserted there is a sudden increase in pressure, as the water turns to steam and then the volatile gases are given off and then burn, producing yet more volume.
That pressure forces the gases out of the kiln and on meeting the outside air the unburnt particles combust.
end of kiln While the flames burn at the top, no more stoking happens.
heating up Gradually the temperature rises!
Sometimes the pressure increase forces flames out of the firebox doors.
Belinda stoking Belinda stoking.
The aim is the leave the door open for as short a time as possible, to minimise the amount of cold air let in. It was also very hot for the stokers, when the radiant heat from the firebox hits them, so closing quickly is self preservation!
Belinda still stoking Belinda still stoking.
Belinda stoking Belinda getting her hand a bit too far into the firebox for comfort!
stoking Shutting the door!
The sparks created go through into the kiln chamber carrying ash which settles on the pots and creates the special effects of using wood as a fuel.
shut the door Finally the door is shut!

watching the cones

Bill watching the cones through the spyhole, where a tapered brick is removed.

Richard stoking

Richard stoking.
closing the door And quickly shutting the door!
cones at midnight The cones at midnight! 8 & 9 just starting to think about bending.
cones at 1am The cones at 1am. Bent enough to call it a night!
These are half way up (or down) the chamber, so the top will be a bit hotter and the bottom a bit cooler.
the night crew The night crew - Richard, Nick & Lottie taking a breather at 1am. Happy with their efforts.
After a short period allowed for the embers to burn out, the slits under the firebox doors were blocked up with bricks and the chimney tunnel portculis damper shelf was dropped to seal it off.

Unloading Pots


top left 1st contact

First glance Monday noon. Top left, after a couple of courses of bricks had been removed to allow the chamber to cool from 150C to a managable heat.
First impressions very good! Nice toasted reduction and ash speckle. well matured glazes.
top middle The middle of the top of the chamber.


The reveal! After all the door bricks had been removed.
Good results.
Cones gone enough, except right at the bottom away from the heat source - which is expected.

bottom right

Close up of bottom right.
Slightly underfired where cooler.

top right

Top right.
The Pharoah is looking happy!
waiting unloading Cool enough to unload.

right up

Worm's eye view!

Nix's platter

One of Nix's platters and some cups. Second shelf up - in the heat of the incoming flames.
back Upper back section.
Dominated by Nick's sculpture and Richard's jugs and vases.
back The back reveals after unpacking most of the front section.
Splendid collection of shapes and colours.
middle back Middle of the back section.
Lottie Lottie admiring her pots and trying to pack them into her bike pannier for the trip home.
Lottie's vase One of Lottie's small vases, with some reduced copper glaze.
Tut Tussi's Pharoah released from his tomb!? Great toasting effects, slightly sunburnt nose?

Bill's dripped vase

Bill's vase.
The dripped glazes have melted together to produce a cascade of textures.
the other side The other side, more of a blanket covering - so two pots for the price of one!?
Belinda Belinda's collection.
Her use of black clay body proved unwise! They all cracked and one gently exploded!
Most of the others have lots of holes in them, but that was meant to happen!


Some of Bill's beakers and glaze testing bowls.


Richard small bowls, thrown off the hump, glazed with his favourite Shiny White!
Pam Pam's mugs.
underfired The underfired "mortaria" from the front right cool place.
These will be refired in the electric kiln, to melt the glazes. That does not seem to lose the reduction effect or the ash speckles.
Bill Bill's bowls inspired by Iron Age Black Burnished Ware bowls, complete with lattice decoration.
Sadly the glaze has crawled away from the rims, where it was applied to the slightly damp pot, rather than being biscuit fired first. They are still functional, but just don't look so good!
Bill's urns Bill cremation urns. Nicely toasted.
Nix mug One of Nix mugs. The band of unglazed clay has picked up the toasted reduction, with a subtle dark edge. The Shiny White glaze is speckled by the ash.

Nix jug

One of Nix's jugs, same design features as above mug, with added vertical engraving.

Nix platter

One of Nix's platters. She has nailed getting the spiral to look natural and the raised edge breaks the glaze to enhance the design with a darker tone.
Nix platter Another of Nix's platters. Slightly hotter, so the same glaze as above has melted more and gone transparent and more speckled.


Birgit's large dish.
Incised pattern, wax resisted and painted with pleasant dark glaze.

Nix mugs

Nix's mugs.
Best ever results!
Richard jugs Richard's jugs. From the top of the kiln chamber, where they get the full force of the heat and ash, well reduced and speckled.
The two vases have the same glaze, but were away from the hottest location and have not be speckled so heavily as the ash does not fly across the top of the chamber all the way.
Caroline Caroline's assorted sculptures.
Some are black clay. Some have a slip glaze, using wood ash from her stove, with found clay and some feldspar and maybe ball or china clay.
Caroline Close up of textures.
Empty kiln The traditional shot of the empty kiln!
Bill's urns Bill's urns.
Bill spiral Bill's spiral decoration.
It has picked up a subtle sheen and toastedness.
Bill's beakers

Bill's beakers.

Bill's spirals

Bill's spirals

Nix sorting

One very pleased Nix sorting her best ever firing results.

Report and Conclusions

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This was a great firing for resulting pots. A good balance of reduction and ash speckling.

The hot damp weather was mildly uncomfortable, but could have been worse!

The temperature was slow to rise yet again from 1000C upwards, but we have got used to that. The fuel was very dry and a good assortment of sizes. The stokers were a great band of well behaved workers, the only blip in performance was as ever when the fish and chips arrived!

Bill's rebuiding of the tunnel from the kiln to the base of chimney was not a great architectural success! A vertical kiln shelf had been used to form the wall of the tunnel near the firebox door and then had shifted inwards slightly, allowing air to be drawn into the tunnel from outside, which must have slowed down the pull a bit. The refurbished firebox doorframe and insulation behaved well.

The kiln firing log will appear here, when Bill gets round to it.

Comments are very welcome - email Bill Crumbleholme

Nix's wares can be seen and purchased at her etsy shop :-


Thanks to :-

The Landlord for support and encouragement.

Luke for the rewelding of the door frame.

Richard for help with the insulation repairs.

All the stokers.

Finally all the potters who brought their wares in to be flame grilled!