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" Woden" - Wood Fired Kiln - The 36th Firing!

This page records the 36th firing of the Woden kiln on 15th April 2023. It is an archive of photographs taken before, during and after the firing.

No significant changes were made to the kiln structure. The corrugated iron roof has at last been upgraded with an extra layer fixed on top - thanks Nikki for arranging donation of tin and Nick for fixing it with his magic cordless drill skills.

If you have come here via the Facebook Event Ticket Link, Do Not Panic! There are no tickets on sale, but it got you to look at this archive page about the firing. That Facebook event page can be found at this link :- https://fb.me/e/2jdCpJ8Ln

If you want more details and/or to be put on the MailChimp email list, so you receive alerts about these firings, please send an email to bill@beakerfolk.co.uk

Menu for sections on this Page:-

Making Pots

Loading Pots

Firing Kiln

Unloading Pots


Making Pots -

Illustration of Kent Beakers An illustration of Romano-British beakers from Kent. Used as inspiration by Bill for a batch of beakers.
Birthday Beakers These are those beakers. Traditionally, as a birthday treat/challenge, Bill cuts a 25kg bag of clay into the number of his age and throws a batch of similar pots.
So go on  - count them!
close up Close up.
The cut pieces of credit card were used to form the profiles of the undercut base and the side with flaring rim.
When dried their bases were tidied up and vertical lines scratched down the walls.
Pile of batten
A fresh pile of batten from the March's roof.
batten cut and stacked The batten cut to length and stacked.
pallets arrived A batch of pallets just arrived.
Richard 3 part lamp base Richard constructing a lamp base thrown in 3 parts.
Goblets thrown for Jenny A batch of goblets, thrown as a commission for Jenny Q.
Note to self - clean lens of mobile phone!
necked vases A batch of Bill's necked vases/carafes.
The tramlines will be tidied up when a bit drier and filled in with impressed marks. 
Cathy throwing Cathy, inspired by Bill's demonstration, attempts a smaller version.
4 fish Bill trying something a bit different.
Aiming to be "fish-bricks" used to cook or maybe smoke fish.
Thrown bottles, with tops closed over and a tail pinched out, then the base narrowed down, the sides pushed in to make better shape. Then cut off by narrowing base even more and placing on their sides to stiffen up.
There is no hole, so the trapped air pocket helps keep the shape inflated while it dries. Then it will be carved and pinched into shape. A needle will cut a fillet off the top side.
hazel stack Meanwhile Nikki has been busy preparing to deliver a stack of hazel that has been seasoning for a year.
It was too big for the coppicers to use, so it will be burnt towards the end of the firing.
Richard thrown bowls Richard's batch of thrown bowls, in about 5 minutes each and all fairly similar.
Nix thrown platters Nix's large platters.
Nix large bowls Nix large bowls.

two decoated fishes Two of Bill's fishes, now filleted and  decorated.


richard 3 bowls bill urn
The links are for time lapse videos of Richard Gould throwing these 3 large bowls.

Bill's large urn is on the right, after the foot and walls had been turned thinner to reveal the gritty texture of the crank clay and the band of "Grooved Ware" decoration added by careful incision.
Tussi and her head Tussi and her "kiln god" head.
Richard in the background throwing large bowls.
batt-washed props Newly batt washed kiln props.
The mix of alumina hydrate and china clay slurry helps to cut down the attack by ash in the kiln, so prolonging the life of the props which hold up the shelves.
Nick reroofing Nick fixing new-to-us sheets  of corrugated iron over the top of the rusted out roof. Bill now has cordless drill envy!
Thanks to Nikki's neighbour for the donation of the "scrap" sheets.
Nick closing up Nick closing up after scraping down and brushing up the chamber walls and ceiling, to remove loose bits of brick, following the build up of ash glazed surface, which tends to loosen when very hot and fall off onto the pots, especially Richard's (so a pint is owed there!).
Bill had also brushed out and sucked out the ash deposits in the fireboxes.
nikki jugs in her kiln A batch of Nikki's jugs about to be biscuit fired.

Loading Pots

lower back of the kiln And so the loading begins.
This is the cooler lower back section on the left.
Two of Bill's fish sit in the middle.
The hotter right side, where the flames come in, has class pots with some of Bill's.
Nix mugs in kiln Nix's mugs.
Nix platters Nix platters and bowls.
back three quarters loaded Nikki broke the back of loading the rear section of the kiln, with an assortment of Bill's pots and those from Upwey Class students, oh yes and some of her own!
back almost full Bill then  filled up the right hand stack and almost finished off the top.
back full Richard finished off the top back.
Richard loading Richard happy with his loading.
richard loading head Richard carefully loading Tussi's head sculptures.
Richard sigh of relief Richard breathing a sigh of relief that they fitted in and he did not drop them!
The heads are in And so the front section is loaded with a mixed collection of pots.
Imogen loading New-comer Imogen loading her pots.
The weird shelf The slightly weird shelf.
Caroline's,  Helen's and Debbie's offerings.
Imogen's lidded jar.
Meanwhile some of Jess's porcelain hands have sprouted up here and there.
Birgit loading Birgit back loading, juggling Richard's large lamp base and Milly's tall textured vase.
Eggardon Sawmill deivery A delivery of slab-wood from Eggardon Sawmill, mainly Douglas Fir.
Great service, he even chain-sawed the bundles so they fit in the fireboxes.
front almost full The front almost full, just waiting for the last potters to turn up.
The final loading crew Lulu and team, after finishing the loading, with a bit of adjustment to get her pieces in, with Cathy's.
bill checking final loading Bill checking the final loading and tweaking.

Apart from the large head sculptures, this was a fairly tight packing density, which slows down the currents of hot air and flames travelling through the chamber, between the pots.
There were gaps right at the front and down the sides, to help circulation.
The final pack The final pack.
The door was then bricked up and all is ready for the firing.

Firing Kiln -

lighting the firebox Lighting the fireboxes.
Kindling a bit damp so a gas torch speeds it up a bit.
early morning flame Bill lit the fires at 5pm Friday and slowly built up the temperature over night, to gently dry out the kiln and the pots, some of which had not be biscuit fired before.
He was using large slab wood planks cut into 18" lengths and bits of fence post and other larger scrap.
By 5am it was 430C, with a nice bed of fire as shown here.
more early flames More early morning flames.
This was the last very large cross section plank, they take a while to burn, which is great for the overnight preheat, but too slow burning to rise the temperature quickly.
Nikki shifting wood Nikki, Birgit and Imogen took over and did the morning shift and into the afternoon. They also shifted the rest of the slab-wood into the  storage position and dealt with a delivery of hazel branches.
Bill relaxing Bill relaxing in the afternoon sun, recovering from the all night stoking.
kiln dog Someone else relaxing in the sun.
Beyond are the stacks of slab wood, batten and hazel.
Belinda stoking Belinda stoking.
Could this be a posed shot for her marketing on social media?
raking embers Raking embers.
This stirring helps the embers to burn quicker and fiercer, it also lowers the level to allow more air to get through to the wood burning on the bars above.
Sarah sci-fi During the afternoon the temperature rise slowed down between 1000C and 1100C.
Richard arrived at 6pm with the fish & chip feast, and everyone had a merry time.
Sarah and Kate took over the chimney side firebox, here is Sarah looking a bit a sci-fi!
"The lads" took on the other firebox.
The graph below shows the slow steady rise.
Richard and Martin Richard, Nick and Martin tending the fire.
It was a well behaved stoking regime, little and often, using hazel and pallet wood.
We tried to avoid over stoking and kept stirring the embers and ashes.
The flames come out of the kiln when new wood is thrown in, the gases liberated and products of combustion produce a rapid expansion in volume and pressure which forces the air out of the kiln. The rest of the time the chimney is pulling the air away.
cone 9 going Bill and Ciaran took over the "girls' firebox and by midnight the cone 8 had started to bend, and the team carried on soaking the kiln to enable the glazes to mature and the ashes take effect.
By 1.30am the cone nine was well over, so the firing was stopped, the doors closed and the chimney blocked with the portcullis dropped into the tunnel.
last glimpse The last glimpse of the front of the kiln, with gaps in the brickwork showing.

Unloading Pots

first peek The first peek, when some bricks have been removed to allow the kiln to cool down.
second peek The second peek, with a few more taken out.
Look great. Cones well bent over. Glazes mature. Good reduction and ash speckle.
kiln gods Tussi's kiln gods!
Luckily the small piece of arch ceiling brick that fell off and landed on the ear came away without a scar following a sharp tap.
unbricked All the door bricks removed to reveal the front of the chamber.
top back revealled The top layers of the front section removed allowing a peek at the back section.
back revealled After all the front section removed here is the back section.
Splendid amount of brown!
A good set of cones showing even heating.

A set of closer images of the back section right and left collaged.
sarah mugs Some of Sarah's mottled mugs.
Lovely fleck by using toasted clay, which has added iron (like cornflakes!?)
cracked rim cup One of the very few cracked pots out of this firing.
A couple of Bill's "birthday cups" must have been subjected to winter frost in his studio, that makes the damp clay fracture when it freezes. The hairline cracks open up in glaze firing. But it could have been much worse!
bill goblets Bill's goblets.
Copper green glaze with hints of red where reduced.
bill narrow necks Bill's narrow necked vessels.
Some say the green is nicer than the brown!
The flatter shoulders pick up the ash better.
fish on beakers A couples of the fish resting on beakers.
The lids all came off cleanly with a gentle tap.
bill mortaria Bill's mortaria and Glastonbury bowls.
bill beakers More of Bill's beakers.
bill cups Bill's cups.
richard bowls Richard's bowls, Shiny White with speckles from ash.
Dale's bowls Dale's bowls
Tussi head Tussi's head.
Tussi head Tussi's larger head.
Pam Pam's pots.
Caroline's sculptures Caroline's sculptures.
Some using black clay.
Some textured with granulated cork.
nikki Nikki's platters.
class Pottery class pots.
more class More class pots and Belinda's large jug.


Birgit's bowls, lidded jars and two little folk.


Birgit's cups and jars.
Incised decoration, wax resisted, Shiny White glaze, ashed speckle and which has an orangey edge.
birgit Birgit's artistically arranged pieces.
birgit and again
birgit and Birgit's cups and lidded jars.
Nikki giving thanks to the kiln gods.

penny's goblets

One of the proud new owners of the goblets.

light oatmeal glaze tests

Bill at last tested the Light Oatmeal glaze using different Ball Clay types (and a mixture of all of them).
Top row slightly lower temperature.
There follows a collection of images from Nikki, which Bill has run out of enthusiasm to label separately.  
nikki's images





Report and Conclusions


The kiln firing log -

kiln firing log 36

A very good firing, well matured glazes, nicely reduced, light ash speckle.

Brilliant, well behaved team of potters making and firing the kiln. They took it nice a slow and even stoking in the fuel, not letting the embers build up too much. A stead climb in temperature most of the time, slowed down but not stopped for long at times.

Many thanks to Eggardon Sawmill for the delivery of slab-wood, Nikki's dad for the hazel branches, Pat & Ron for their roof battens, Chris for fence panels, Simon and others for various scrap construction timber and pallets.

Comments are very welcome - email Bill Crumbleholme

The Ridgeway Potters Collective are the core team, they sell what comes out of this kiln at their events. Check out the website and Facebook page :-
www.ridgewaypotterscollective.co.uk  www.facebook.com/RidgewayPottersCollective

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