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Our first beyond the basics workshop

We’re trying a new idea out this year – a workshop that is a more complete woodfiring experience. Admittedly the wood preparation side of the firing couldn’t be shared with the two students as it needs to happen weeks before the firing. But over the three days the students did the majority of the work associated with firing, from picking pots, wadding and loading, bricking up the wicket, starting the firing and stoking all day for 12 hours, unloading and all the usually cleaning up needed in a brick kiln.

There is a tendency with workshop firings that whilst the rostered on stokers are fully engaged with the firing, the off duty students tend to not keep an eye on some of the important transitions going on in the firing cycle. This is one solution that for short fast firing kilns works. The other feature of this workshop was in the emphasis on cleaning up, so the wicket was cleaned and ground as it was removed – making the next firing easier. The kiln and firebox were cleaned – removing the wadding, ash and nails. The shelves were left due to the awful weather, but there was a demonstration of how to clean a shelf and where to apply the wash.

The kiln load was roughly divided into three portions, one third for each of the students and one third for the tutor to offset the the work preparing the wood and hosting the firing. The firing itself was a success with some great results for the students and tutor and proof that this new idea for woodfiring workshops can work.