> READ the
complete text of an article I authored about side-firing,
entitled "Side Firing: Where the Life Is", originally
published in Ceramics Monthly Magazine, (USA), April
Gravity Defying Ash:
My Side-fired Techniques
For years long before I had regular access to a wood-fired kiln
I had been attracted to wood-fired pots.especially to those that
were fired on their sides. Whether side-fired by choice, or the result
of some unforeseen firing accident, the (seeming) gravity-defying movement
of the natural ash glaze on the body of a pot which had been sideways
in the kiln, had long been attractive to me. And I was especially moved
by those pots that had been fired for long days and weeks those
bearing thick unimaginable accumulations of flowing viscous ash.
Being without a wood-fired kiln, I saw no way to make works which embraced
the aesthetics I so admired. However after some years of reflecting
upon this side-fired aesthetic, I determined to try to create a way
of pursuing these visual delights, while still working within the limitations
of my gas-fired kiln. What has emerged is a process that, perhaps, breaks
some of the normally-held "rules" of firing.
The pots are glazed with a "carbon-trapping" Shino-style glaze. While
the glaze is still wet, wood ash (harvested from the fireboxes of anagama
wood-fired kilns) is sprinkled on one side of the work (the "top" side).
Later, colorants and fluxes are added to the pot near the wood ash.
The piece is then laid on its side atop a one-time-use tripod, which
I construct. Often I place a seashell on each leg of the tripod, so
that the pot is in contact only with the seashells.
During the firing the ash and fluxes and colorants melt, mix, and mingle
as they begin to run from the "top" side of the pot to the bottom side.
There the flow often forms a big drip or two of glassy ash-glaze, before
dripping off the pot into the tripod basin. At the end of the firing
some of these drips are captured, drooling off the pots, as the pots
After the firing when the pots are cool, the shells (which have turned
from calcium oxide to calcium sulfate as a result of their interaction
with the intense heat) dissolve when placed in water, leaving the shell
marks that are visible on many of my side-fired pots.
These side-fired pots are no longer mere substitutes for wood-fired
pots: they have developed their own voice and aesthetic one which
I continue to pursue, even though I now have regular access to several