It’s been really quiet here, and that’s because I’ve been gleefully up to my arms in clay and sand for the past 3 weeks, assisting in a wood-kiln build at Gaya Ceramic Art Centre in Ubud, Bali, and then making pots to fire up the kiln with!
With other participants, under the instruction of experienced wood-kiln builder and ceramicist Gyan Daniel Wall, I got to heft, chisel and mortar in raw clay bricks to form an anagama kiln that was essentially a large clay vessel to hold pots, flame and fire. We had all the fun, and Gyan and the Gaya boys did most of the hard work If you’re curious about the process, here are some pictures from Gaya Ceramic Art Centre’s facebook page.
Among 7-8 potters over the course of 5 days, we managed to fill the Gayagama with a load of fresh (and in many cases still wet) pots. And then we started the fire.
The pots that emerged from three days of intense firing were remarkably different from that of a gas firing. Instead of applied glaze, they were gifted with a natural finish by wood ash settling and subsequently melting at high temperatures. They were burnished by flame that traveled and squeezed in between a cargo of tightly packed pots. They bloomed with white sparks and grew organic textures, with a vocabulary of rust, orange peel, toast, moss, iron and gray stone. Crystals formed onto, and carbon infused into parts of the clay as it vitrified. Imagine the pleasure of opening the kiln and bringing out surprise after surprise.
I brought back many of the pieces I made…
The cup above has become my favourite water mug of the moment
More pictures of the inside of the kiln and some great work by all the potters who participated in the workshop here.