Kiln Diagrams
Building the Kiln
Firing the Kiln

Since spring 2000, most of the ware produced at Great Basin Pottery has been fired in the new wood burning kiln. Woodfiring is the main focus of my work.

The kiln was designed and built by myself and Joe Winter, in 1999 and 2000. Many others helped in the construction, and now participate in firings. The design is based on old Asian types, known as tunnel or Anagama kilns. This style of firing is desirable to some contemporary Potters for the strong ash and flame effects on the work. The Anagama chamber holds roughly 200 cubic feet of ware, and the salt chamber about 50 cubic feet. Firings take five days to load, three to fire, and four to cool.

We were fortunate to obtain a large stock of firebrick from a Northern California sawmill, at a reasonable price. The sawmill now uses castable refractory, and bricks are obsolete. There were four truck and trailer loads, totaling 100 pallets of brick, of many sizes and shapes. It was like a big jigsaw puzzle, and a lot of fun to build. Faced with a virtually unlimited brickpile, we decided to increase the size overall, and add a salt glazing chamber above the Anagama. Exhaust heat from the Anagama preheats the salt chamber. It was a good decision, and we all enjoy the salt glazed pots.

Fuel for the firings is mostly scrap wood from industrial sources. Soft wood framing lumber comes from truss factories, and hardwood sticks from a moulding plant. The scrap wood is normally hauled to the landfill, or burned in a pile for disposal. In addition, I cut and gather Ponderosa Pine cordwood, under permit from the Plumas National Forest, and from local private properties. All cordwood is from dead and windfall trees, or logging slash.

The kiln is fired twice yearly, in spring and fall. As of this writing (December 2005) the twelfth firing is just completed. We are starting to get some sense of how to use the kiln, though I believe it takes many years to do it right. The results are encouraging so far. A large wood burning kiln can be a powerful teacher, and I try to listen to it and allow myself to be led by the firing process.

Great Basin Pottery  

Phone: 530-827-2706

423-725 Scott Road
Doyle, CA 96109
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