There has been a dramatic increase in the number of potters firing with wood, particularly within the last generation. Wood firing is the process in which wood is used as fuel to fire pottery kilns that have been specifically designed for this purpose. In an age when technology has produced kilns capable of attaining high temperatures in a matter of hours, it is perhaps remarkable that many potters choose to build and fire kilns that are labor intensive and require constant attention throughout the entire period of the firing, which may last several days.
For the wood-firers of today, the process represents an entire aesthetic, involving personal choices of both materials and techniques. Some seek the quiet touch of the flame accentuating a glazed surface or giving subtle ash effects on unglazed surfaces. Others combine wood firing and salt or soda glazing to achieve satisfying effects. Yet others want their work simply to look wood-fired, bearing evidence of the long intensity of fire. What wood-firers all have in common is an attraction to the active and creative process of wood firing.
In Wood-fired Ceramics, Coll Minogue and Robert Sanderson briefly describe the development of the main types of wood-fired kilns used by today's potters. They then present the aesthetic aims, working practices, and kilns of an international group of artists. Clay, glaze, and slip recipes, kiln firing logs, and kiln plans are also included. Work by over sixty artists illustrates the text, and represents of the diversity of styles in contemporary wood-fired ceramics.
Coll Minogue has been a professional potter since 1982 and has worked in Australia and New Zealand as well as in Britain. She is the author of Impressed and Incised Ceramics.
Robert Sanderson, a professional wood-fire potter since 1976, has given workshops in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. He received a major Crafts Bursary Award from the Scottish Arts Council in 1994, and was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship in 1997.