Kiln Building

Below is a small range of images showing the progress of the new wood fired kiln built as part of my MA at Gray’s School of Art. Wood fired kilns have interested me possibly since before ceramics, I have a very early recollection of my mother taking me to watch my Dad and colleagues fire a medieval style kiln as part of a UCLan project, I distinctly remember the atmosphere and the excitement of everyone involved. Some time later at age 14 I was fortunate to visit the International Ceramics Studios in Hungary where I was able to participate in firing one of Fred Olsen’s “fast fire” designs, this was wood fired with salt glaze.

After building my first kiln at 18 I have since been adapting designs based on styles of work I like, where the kilns are built and often what type of fuel I can source. The most recent kiln is a slight alteration on the Phoenix Kiln built by Jeremy Steward at the International Ceramics Festival. This is a design that I have rebuilt a number of times and each time making slight amendments based on what I have learnt from previous firings.

The main reason for wanting to wood fire with an atmospheric glaze is, in my opinion, the results achieved by using wood are often superior to kilns fired by other fuels. All work unpacked from the kiln has it own identity and is never symmetrical. I also enjoy the act of turning clay into ceramic using a process which has not changed for thousands of years, as well as helping me feel connected to the past.

Construction of base leaving mouse holes at the end of the fire boxes, allowing extra air to burn embers. 
Two fire boxes with fire bars yet to be added. Start of the kiln chamber. Built using reclaimed fire bricks.
Beginning of the kiln chamber using relatively new fire bricks outside of which the first layers of insulation bricks have been laid. Chimney is to the right above the fireboxes.
Beginning of cladding using ordinary red brick.
This is the door at the front of the kiln with the start of the arch to the left.
Arch bricks were assembles previously on the ground to make the former supporting the construction.
Finished arch with the beginning of the door made from insulation brick.
Bracing of kiln with 5mm thick steel welded on site. this support the arch as well guiding bricks into the right place when the kiln expands due to heat.
Finished kiln awaiting the chimney to be built higher on the right.