Friday, March 21, 2014

All of this for Wood-Fired Beads?

MaryAnn Carroll
I must say that I am pretty lucky to be able to include beads in regular wood-firings. It is definitely a rare happening, since, who would build a 34 cubic foot kiln to fire beads in? My husband, of course. I think he does this just to keep my happy! Yes, I am SURE he does this to keep me happy!!

The truth is that there is quite a process that goes into wood-firing. The first part of the process is the same for all ceramic artists who use a wheel and fire with methods such as electric or gas. You start off with clay...... and a wheel....

Then, a few steps follow.... like skill, knowledge, artistry, practice, more practice and more practice, until you get it just right. Nothing can replace the time to perfect an art like practice.

This is Bill at a recent "throwing" event near our home.
Once the piece is thrown, it is left to dry until leather hard. At this time, the thrown piece gets trimmed.... Well, MANY pieces get trimmed. To fill his wood-fire kiln, it takes about 300-350 pieces depending on the size of the pieces.

A leather hard bowl that has been trimmed.
Now, it takes about a week or two for the piece to dry completely. At this point, they go into his electric kiln to be bisque fired. A bisque firing basically prepares a piece so that it can be handled without breaking during the glaze process.

This is one shelf prepared for a bisque firing inside of the electric kiln. Typically, 4-5 shelves similar to this are stacked.
A grouping ready to be removed for glazing.

 After they are bisque fired, it's time for the glazing....

As you see, he has a little of the female appeal going as strongly encouraged by me....

This group shows the wadding on the bottom of some pieces. I will explain that more when I post Part II of the process.

Look at the picture below. Do you see where the arrow is pointing? That is one small rack of my beads. You might be able to see why wood-fired beads are rare. These kilns are not built for beads and most who go through the labor of building a wood-fire kiln are doing so for the love of this form of pottery making, as well as for larger works of art.

Bill is preparing for another firing now. I will keep you posted for the 2nd half of the process. It's even more involved that the first half. You can learn a little more in advance by visiting his website and/or his shop.

Here are some beads from some past firings.

Thanks so much for reading and for supporting artists who create handmade with handmade.



Desiree Malan said...

Your wood fire beads are beautiful and your husband's pottery too. I attended a wood fire workshop many years ago and only then realised how much work goes into it. Looking forward to part II.

stacilouise said...

I really love the soft earthy tones you get from wood firing. How awesome that you have that opportunity!

Sharyl said...

I love hearing about your process! The dishes and beads are so wonderful!

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