Here are some before and after shots of our loading and finished firing of Hikarigama. A couple of things are shown and is a great source of information with these pics: the movement of ash and flame, the coloration of the finished pots, and the shrinkage rate of the ceramic material. Some clays can shrink up to 20%, so it is interesting to view the spaces between the pots grow from the beginning of firing to the end.
I thought it would be nice to show the process from the beginning to ending of loading and firing this kiln, which takes about a week. Being patient and thoughtful are key in this event, especially working diligently and with purpose. Respecting the time it takes to make the work and load and fire it should be handled in a caring manner; at least this is how I approach my work, almost as if the ceramic work and kiln absorbs the emotional energy we, the community of potters involved emit. Enjoy the show!
A lot has happened since arriving at Hikarigama last Friday, and it has gone by fast. The pots are all nice and warm, we're finishing up here with the last bit of work needed to be done. I think I can speak for most that this has been a most rewarding and tiring experience. Firing in spring offers some variation in work needing to be done that summer doesn't require, mainly just the overall dampness of kiln, wood, and surrounding environment. And because of the damp wood we may get some interesting results of ash and flame work on our pots... looking forward to seeing what this load has in store for us!
Here are some pictures of us working the kiln throughout the night. It's fairly intense working with the high temperatures of over 2000 F, but we do it at a relaxed and steady climb for 5 days. Working throughout the night there are not too many distractions, so it's easy to focus on the rhythm of the kiln and the cycle of stoking wood; of course good conversation, music, and libations help as well.
The energy the kiln holds within is pretty amazing to be around. Sounds of drafting air being pulled through builds upon itself and by the end of the firing the kiln sounds as if a train is passing, a deep hollow vibration also accompanies the sound. It's easy to imagine with looking at this picture to the right with flame shooting out one of the kilns side stoke ports.
Another April... another spring firing with friends at Hiroshi Ogawa's Hikarigama kiln. And my words fall short in expressing how grateful I feel towards the friends I have met working in clay and the community that makes up woodfire. We all bring more than our ceramic vessels; we bring stories, thoughts, comments and laughter. We bring support to one another and share our enjoyment of life through cooking and music. Bob Dylan and Neil Young are often played too much, yet bacon (the most talked about food item) can't get talked about enough. Jokes are exchanged, laughter ensues; we work with thoughtfulness towards one another and the pots we bring. Yes, we certainly bring more than our pots.