FIRINGS

   

Two separate and different methods of firing are employed here. With the first, an electric kiln is used, electronically programmed to fire at a certain rate. This is fired many times a year and is essentially a 20th.c tool.

With the second, a salt kiln is used, a vast, dirty, hand-built structure weighing many tons; a marathon to pack, fire and maintain. Firing it involves someone being in constant, close attention, manually directing its course over a 39hour period; a noisy time of fierce, smoky, smelly heat,one worked in shifts by two potters. Presently one such firing occurs each year.

All potters must be closely involved with their materials and the techniques that accompany them. During a salt firing the potter is also drawn into a close liaison with flame itself. Such a kiln is a timeless tool, not greatly different from kilns fired down many centuries across the whole world. Gas and oil may now be used as fuel where coal and wood were before. But it is still a potter expertly directing flame through his kiln. When looking into the kiln during a firing the wares are incandescent with heat. Such moments may continue to thrill the imagination but only when all such process is in the ultimate service of a poetry of form, has the potter succeeded.

Many traditional crafts are characterised by such involvement. By the standards of our present digital age, it is slow and sometimes heavy physical work. But at its best it is an occupation where head, heart and hand are engaged equally.