Burning up - wood firing Part 2

Yesterday was a marathon wood firing effort.

I can’t begin to claim the credit, as I was helped by so many people completely voluntarily. 

The day passed in a haze of hot sunshine, increasingly hot wood, and endless gifts of food, drink, homemade produce, stoking time and good humour. When advice was imparted, it was very subtle and I noticed how people were drawn to the firing out of true enjoyment and a desire to participate. 

Akira San helped so much, to guide me at the beginning with a schedule and during the day; and the ever serene Matsunami San checked in on me occasionally and exuded his calm presence.

One particular highlight were the sweet potatoes from Erika San’s garden which roasted away infront of the kiln. She also spent some time stoking too after work.

Two major events occurred during the firing from a technical point of view. The first was around 600 degrees when huge plumes of black, acrid smoke billowed from the side of the kiln. I made a quick phone call to the office, swiftly followed by Yuki San arriving to re-assure me it was normal!

This took the firing back a bit and I struggled to get up to 800. Eventually making it with a little prayer to the patient Kiln God I’d made earlier, and prompted by fellow artist Wen Hsi who dropped by.

Both Antonio and Sita came and got stuck in with two very helpful sessions - Sita getting the kiln to 1200 at which point I was able to maintain the heat solo handed for 3 more hours. 

Barbara brought a delicious bowl of udon soup with Inari tofu up to keep me going and provided much appreciated help. 

Both Nate and Matt sat with me as it got late and we had a good chat about politics! 

The session ended with frozen edamame from Jennifer Lee, and finally, a celebration beer and the very chilled out and calming presence of new arrival to SCCP, Man Yau from Helsinki.

All I can say is thank you, because apart from the obvious enjoyment and challenge of my first wood firing, it was the people (and Japanese luck) that made it.

 

 Akira San made the first flame. 

Akira San made the first flame. 

 My little Kiln God loosely based on Kitsune the fox that guards the Shinto Shrines in Japan. The kiln was also sprinkled with sake for additional good luck and thanks. 

My little Kiln God loosely based on Kitsune the fox that guards the Shinto Shrines in Japan. The kiln was also sprinkled with sake for additional good luck and thanks. 

 Starting to gradually build up the heat. 60 degrees per hour until around 250.

Starting to gradually build up the heat. 60 degrees per hour until around 250.

 Surrounded by the forest as I worked. Late summer cicadas still calling, occasional crow calls, and a black kite emerged from time to time. 

Surrounded by the forest as I worked. Late summer cicadas still calling, occasional crow calls, and a black kite emerged from time to time. 

 First visitors to the kiln. Barbara is here for a 6 month residency, so it’s nice to see someone enjoying the life at Shigaraki with so much potential ahead. 

First visitors to the kiln. Barbara is here for a 6 month residency, so it’s nice to see someone enjoying the life at Shigaraki with so much potential ahead. 

 Antonio made a brilliant contribution to the day, coming in after my challenging moment around 800 degrees. 

Antonio made a brilliant contribution to the day, coming in after my challenging moment around 800 degrees. 

 Sweet potatoes from Erika’s garden - they were perfect by 5pm. 

Sweet potatoes from Erika’s garden - they were perfect by 5pm. 

 Erika and Ishihama San stoking during their lunch break!

Erika and Ishihama San stoking during their lunch break!

 More stoking from Erika after work - great company. 

More stoking from Erika after work - great company. 

 Holding temperature reached around 7pm. 

Holding temperature reached around 7pm. 

 Thanks to incredible effort by Sita. Everyone who stoked had slightly different approaches, but the result was always in the right direction. 

Thanks to incredible effort by Sita. Everyone who stoked had slightly different approaches, but the result was always in the right direction. 

 Man Lau from Helsinki witnessed the final push to 1240 after 3 hours of holding temperature. And so to bed!! 

Man Lau from Helsinki witnessed the final push to 1240 after 3 hours of holding temperature. And so to bed!!