Wood, Fire & Clay

Terry Osborne's wood-fired pottery show at the Carnegie Gallery, October, 2011.

Photo of the show at the Carnegie Gallery
A wood-fired pot is never the same from front to back. In wood-firing, the flame moves around the pot – sometimes with forceful velocity and direction, at other times in a soft, teasing manner. Muted colours develop on the pot. Sometimes the flame leaves a mere sprinkling of ash; sometimes it provokes a running rivulet of glaze. All of this contributes to the strength of the finished piece, glowing from the fire and full of vitality.
vase and platter bottle group of wood-fired pots

Wood, Fire & Clay

The work is the product of four wood burning kilns:

Hog Barn Baby, in Codrington, Ontario and Beulah Deane, in Breslau, are cross draft catenary arch kilns. They were built in 2004 and 2007 by an enthusiastic workshop group under the direction of Mark Peters. With this type of kiln the fire box is part of the kiln; the ware is separated from the fire box by a bag wall. Using primarily softwood with some hardwood mixed in, the firing will take 18-24 hours to complete. The pots from these kilns have a warm toasty look with ash deposits sprinkled on the shoulders, rims, handles etc.

The Benner train kiln in Grimsby has a separate fire box (a bourry box) and is long and low like a train. This kiln, mainly fired with hardwood, has a delicate temperament and must be carefully tended for approximately 30 hours. Towards the end of the firing packets of salt mixed with sawdust are stoked into the kiln often resulting in a glossy finish on the work and introducing grey into the colour palette.

Lord Baltimore
, in New Hamburg, is an anagama kiln designed and built by Cam Fisher and Chris Lass. It is based on the traditional tunnel kilns of Japan. Unlike the other wood burning kilns there is no barrier between the fire and the pots. The kiln has three stacks and stretches 13 feet in length. It will hold a great deal of work and takes 4-6 days to fire. The results are widely varied depending on where and how the work is placed in the kiln.

Wood firing requires a group of people to work together to achieve a successful outcome. I have been blessed to work with the different communities that have developed around the firing of each of these kilns.

group of wood-fired pots