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" Woden" - Wood Fired Kiln - The 32nd Firing!

This page records the 32nd firing of the Woden kiln in October 2021. It is an archive of photographs taken before, during and after the firing.

The kiln was fired on Tuesday 26th October 2021, give of take a day or two!

 The tunnel from firing chamber to bottom of chimney was rebuilt (again!), this time by Nick, whose design skills and practical engineering are somewhat ahead of Bill's, he also knows how to use tolerances properly. Bill is too intolerant!

Some more ceramic fibre was stuffed into leaking brickwork joints.

 The corrugated iron roof could still do with replacement.....


Menu for sections on this Page:-

Making Pots

Loading Pots

Firing Kiln

Unloading Pots


Making Pots -

small mortaria drying Bill's birthday batch of small mortaria, drying before turning.
stalagtite Bill visited Wokey Hole recently, this is his artistic response to the amazing stalagtites. Plasterer's scrim dipped in paperclay slip and hung up to dry. Placed in the kiln on its side on the bottom shelf. 
Glastonbury ware dring Bill's bowls inspired by Iron Age Glastonbury Ware from  Somerset lake villages. "Celtic" type designs.
Chimney tunnel
Nick rebuilt the tunnel from the firing chamber into the base of the chimney.
Having struggled to seal off the chimney at the end of the last firing by sliding a kiln shelf horizontally, this version now features a portcullis style drop down shelf.

Loading Pots

Loading started Loading started.
loading Ice cream bowls ready to load.
5 twelfths loaded After second day loading - five twelfths loaded!
Mainly Bill's pots, with a few kiln fillers from Nikki!
Tried hard not to stack it too densely and leave bigger gap above the pots and get the shelves to stagger - as in not line up horizontally with each other, nothing to do with being unstable on its feet!
All trying to promote better circulation of hot air.
Half loaded Day 3. Back half loaded.
Well done Simon and Jess. Simon also for breaking some timber up. Jess for coping when the whole right-hand stack of shelves started to wobble while she was loading her pots - sorted by inserting an extra prop on under the bottom shelf - silly Bill for being a bit lop-sided to start with!
Ready for the next loading.
5 6th loaded Five sixths loaded?!
That all the back and much of the front stacks.
Nick and Nix now all present and correct. All neat and tidy.
Nix and Bill Nix looking pleased with her efforts.
Bill looking a bit tired and dirty - after a day of hard labour breaking pallets!
Steve S ready to load Steve Snowball's pieces ready to load.
A signature ammonite platter, created with wax resist pattern and 3 experimental flower pots, made of black clay with underglaze colours.
tubes Steve's somewhat arty shot of the kiln, with tubes.
about the load After Dale's, Sarah and her classes and Birgit's pieces are in, Steve's ready to load, a juggling act with Helen's and her classes which were about to arrive.
fully loaded Mark's last minute  ground floor test pieces, with experimental clay inclusions and ash coating.
Now fully loaded, except for one more pot at the top and the cones to be placed.
Everyone's pieces crammed in, except one of Sarah's and most of Bill's standby overflow pots, but some of those even got in on the top shelf.
Shortly afterwards Helen and Bill bricked up the door and left - ready for the firing next week.

Firing Kiln -


This is a link to a YouTube video of the kiln being stoked by Richard & Viv. Two splendid folk who worked long into the night, without even having any pots being fired in the kiln!
firebox Firebox doors, gently smoking.
There is a slight gap around the door frame, which lets the flames out. With the wind blowing from the SW, towards the camera, there is slight suction on this side and so the flames are drawn out. The other firebox is in positive pressure and the flames and extra air supply is pushed into the kiln.
10pm flames At 10pm.
This firing had more flames coming from the top of the chimney than ever before.
They are a sign that the chimney is pulling air through the kiln too much, so less heat is transferred to warm up the pots and kiln structure.
Also the flames show that not all the fuel has been burnt inside the firebox or kiln chamber, which is inefficient.
The flames are however very pretty!
The firing was started at 2.15pm on Monday, using large solid pieces of tree to create a very gentle pre-heat to dry everything out at about 100C at the top and a bit less lower down the chamber.
At 6pm the stoking was increased with slightly smaller chunks of timber.
By 10.30pm the temperature was reading 200C at the top and 130C at the bottom.
The rate of stoking was gradually increased from then onwards, reaching 700C by 6.30am Tuesday morning. Bill had stayed awake all that time, apart from brief naps while sitting watching the firebox, keeping his toes warm. Having done the easy stoking, he then went home for a few hours sleep and Nikki and her father took over. They pushed the temperature up slowly to 900C by 12.45pm.
The kiln was apparently being slow to heat up - stalling now and then.
By 4pm it has reached 1000C. It took until 8.30pm to reach 1100C.
Then it refused to get any hotter for hours and hours and hours!
Bill had a snooze, while the night team scratched their heads and hatched a new strategy. Nick wanted to play with his newly installed portcullis damper in the tunnel leading to the chimney, so at 4pm that was lowered about half way down, to partially block the flow of air. That seemed to encourage the kiln to get hotter by a quicker 20C and we reached 1143C at 5am, when we normally pack up and go home with the cones gone. But the cones were still very upright.
By 7pm the temperature had fluctuated somewhat and dropped to 1123C by 7am.
We got bored and removed the portcullis - but perhaps we should have tried lowering it further.
By 10.30am, the peak of just over 1150C was reached. The crew started to have delusions that the cones were starting to bend over to indicate that the glaze might be maturing.
By 2pm - 48 hours into the firing time - the cones has started to bend and we called it a day (and a night and another day!)
The firebox doors were closed and their bases blocked up to stop cold air getting into the chamber. The portcullis was lowered in completely.
The remaining team left for home and sleep!
cones going This is a shot of the cones at the end of the firing, at about 2pm, not 12 hours earlier when we would normally have finished the firing!

Unloading Pots

unbricking The team returned next day to unload, the kiln was still a bit warm - 380C - but cooled after the fire doors were opened and bricks had been removed from the chamber door.
Here we see Bill with his mobile device telling the rest of the crew that they could come and help unload, rather than wait another day.
door coming down Bill grinning and trying to bare it having looked in the kiln.
The resulting pots were looking good, as long as you like lots of reduced brown!
That top middle shelf prop leaning over was a worrying sight, but it was only holding up a quarter sized shelf.
bill explains Bill explaining to Helen.
front revealed The front with bricks removed to reveal the whole stack.
Not so very brown all the way down!
front ready to unload Ready to unload.
Cones mostly bent, even near the bottom of the chamber.
The three stack of shelves did seem to have taken on a slight lean.
back revealed After the front stacks had been removed the back three stacks were inspected.
Lots of nice brown bowls by Bill!
But also a slight leaning of stacks.
But no collapses.
The top right stack shelf was almost touching the side of the kiln, where the flames come in and up. That had stopped the flames from reaching the very top as below there was a larger gap, so the flames when into that space instead.
Nick unloading Nick unloading.
The yellow bucket is where all the shells and clay impressions are collected.
Nick looking Nick backing breaking work!
Nicks various Some of Nick's nice shiny pieces, from the path of the flames! Well done to get the lid off, which was fired in place.
Nicks mugs Some of Nick's mugs, high fired, loads of reduction. Sadly (!?) the blue turned a bit brown.
Nix sorting Nix sorting some of her results.
Nix platters Nix platters came out very well, with only minor warpage.
This images does not capture the true beauty of the glaze colours (apparently).
Nix close up Close up of Nix smaller pieces, salt pigs and bud vases.
Nix assorted Nix white mugs with toasted ash finish and a large platter.
bill blue An ash glaze test bowl by Bill, got a bit hot and ran. A rare touch of blue.
various Steve's plant pots and ammonite dish. Sarah (& students) mugs and bowls.











Report and Conclusions


The kiln firing log - to follow



Comments are very welcome - email Bill Crumbleholme

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



Thanks to everyone who helped with the firing and made it such an enjoyable event.