The students in the wood fire class at the School of Art fired their first kiln load a month ago. It was so cold that day and the wind just whipped through our coats right to the bone with a sharp chill. It is hard to believe but it will actually be warmer in Winnipeg tomorrow when this kiln is fired. How many times have I said that we are blessed?
The students did a great job. Julia cleared the entire kiln courtyard of snow before Monique and Kendra started loading. Jiawei, Kewan, and Hyounjung helped to sort all of the work and everyone pitched in wadding work if it needed it. We loaded the kiln keeping in mind that The Laidback Wood Fire book by my friend Steve Harrison says to place the bag wall in the front. Markus Bohm puts it at the back and in the end Steve has abandoned a bag wall altogether and gone with a tight stack in the middle. Ours is a combination of all of those. Pots were placed in the extended throat to slow and move the flames about. Kewan’s arches are helping to keep the flames contained on the floor at the back and on the first shelf. We listened and did not load the top as tight as we did before and there is room all around for the flames to travel. Fingers crossed. These students have worked hard and learned a lot – although I doubt if they fully comprehend all that they have learned yet. Sara, Anastasia, and Alexandra put the finishing touches on bricking up the door. It all starts in the wee hours of the morning when Sara does the gas pre-heat. Stay posted…firing pictures to follow on Sunday. We unload the kiln on Friday with high hopes.
Everyone has either brought bisque work or created objects that will be loaded tomorrow. The kiln will be fired with dry Poplar logs on Thursday for about 14 hours so that we can reach cone 14.
Markus mixed up some amazing short bodied heavily grogged clay. All of the participants and Markus worked on the wheels (Diane Laluk made masks) and those vessels have been drying in the kiln room or out in the sun to be loaded tomorrow raw. Can’t wait to see how the lick of the flames changes them.
It has been a great experience. Everyone seems to have much more confidence, realized talents and muscles they hadn’t used for awhile, and made some new friends. You literally could feel the ‘cooperation and respect’.
Now if you are looking for some experience building a similar kiln and live near Maple Creek Saskatchewan, get in touch with Zach and Adrienne at Smiling Cow Studios. They already have their pad ready and will start the build in about a week. Zach is an incredibly nice guy – drive over and give them a hand. I am certain that they would come and help you! Pass along this information to anyone that you know.
This Bourry box kiln with the extended throat should fire beautifully using little wood. It is time to think of the environment and to slow down. Will post some of the images when the pieces come out of the kiln! There are going to be some beauties!
The first is news of a really big event. The last two weeks of June, Master Potter Markus Boehm from Germany will be with us. For years I have been advocating for a wood kiln that was for the students, one that could be fired by a single person achieving the level of ash that would put a smile on your face without using so much wood and without having to be fired for 46 hours. Well, we are going to build it! A state of the art smokeless Bourry Box kiln that will reach cone 14 in 14 hours using only two cubic metres of hardwood logs. Honestly, you can knit a sweater while firing this kiln. Good for one person, great for a group, too. I will be putting out the call for 10 workshop participants. It will be 10 days and will include a firing. I need individuals who are keen to learn how to put German engineering into wood kiln design and who are not afraid of long days, sweating, learning a heck of a lot, and walking away with some nice wood fired pieces. Final dates and workshop costs will be forthcoming.
Bob Archambeau has been with the School of Art for 50 Years. In the late fall, the School of Art Gallery at the University of Manitoba will be holding a retrospective of Archambeau and his work. I will be curating this special exhibition and will be looking for work of Bob’s dating from 1968 to 2008 as well as historic photographs and great stories about Bob as a teacher and potter to go into the catalogue. Stay tuned as Paul Hess and I work towards finalizing dates.
Ceramics Club at the University of Manitoba will be holding their spring sale in mid-April. Watch this site for dates and times.
And two articles of mine were published. One features Joo Young Han (Grace Han), Onnghi Master and recent MFA graduate from the School and is in the latest edition of New Ceramics (Neue Keramik) and Markus Boehm: East German Master Potter Adapts to Changes since the fall of the wall in Ceramics: Art and Perception. Also, Grace Han will be featured on a short documentary by the CBC. I will try to get the dates and times it will be shown. Congratulations Grace!