6 Feb 2014
Staff and students prepare for kiln marathon
Staff and students from the School of the Arts today began preparations for the firing of a distinctive kiln that will involve six days of work.
The School is home to an Anagama kiln which is fired using wood, creating unique surface qualities on ceramic products. The kiln is one of very few in the UK and the only one in the higher education sector.
Anagama kilns originate from the Far East and were often tucked into hillside locations. The Loughborough kiln was designed and constructed by Ben Brierley, Technical Tutor of Ceramics.
Ben and his team of helpers will stack the kiln with ceramics today and tomorrow. Ben’s own work will be fired, along with that of a range of students studying courses in Fine Art, Ceramics and 3D New Practice.
Since the last firing of the kiln, in January 2013, Ben has been collecting both hard and soft woods from a variety of suppliers to prepare for the firing, and in total around four tons of wood will be used.
This is all scrap wood – waste from agricultural fence makers and natural tree falls. The whole firing is carried out using fuel from sustainable resources.
The actual firing will take place over four days between Thursday, February 13 and Sunday, February 16. The kiln fire will be lit and wood fed into it to increase the temperature.
It will be fired to 1400°C. There is no wall separating the fire from the work, and through the duration of the firing the ash from the fire lands on the pots and melts to form a natural glaze.
The team led by Ben will work 24 hours a day to keep the kiln stoked with wood to ensure temperatures are maintained.
Ben, himself, will be on site for the full duration of the firing to ensure that the kiln works effectively by monitoring the temperature, the amount of wood fuel used and regulating the amount of air drawn into the kiln.
Once the firing has been completed it will take approximately a week to cool sufficiently to allow the ceramic products to be removed.
Ben said: “We only fire this kiln once a year because it is such a labour intensive process to prepare the products, collect enough wood for the firing and ensure we have enough help to keep the kiln going for a suitable duration.
“The effort is, however, really worthwhile and there is no doubt that the finish on the products is unique.”
Further technical information about the construction and operation of the kiln is available by visiting www.Ben-Brierley-Woodfired-Ceramics.co.uk