search  current discussion  categories  kilns & firing - wood 

simple wood fire kilns

updated mon 31 mar 97


Eric Mindling on fri 14 mar 97

Here in southern Mexico the potters who kiln fire use simple wood fired
kilns made of adobe or cement or clay bricks. The most common is adobe
as it's free with a little bit of sweat. Kilns are built on the the
grounds surface (generally with a stone or cement brick foundation to
deal with erosion problems when it rains) There are no specific
demensions. Often a potter will have a big kiln and a small one to
accomodate the specific amount they happen to be firing. Kilns are
upright cilinders that top load like a washing machine. The fire box is
at ground level or perhaps slightly sunken. The top 2/3rds of the kiln
hold the pots, the bottom third is for the fire. These two spaces are
seperated by fairly flat arches made of adobe or, more often, brick,
that span the inside of the kiln. There are usually four of these
arches, two going one way, and two set perpendicular to them so that
they intersect and crisscross to form an open floor on which to stack
the greenware. A typical large kiln may measure 5' high by 4' wide.
Firings last a few hours to all day, and always start with just a few
coals that are slowly built up into a roaring flame that will shoot
through the top of the kiln. (kiln top is covered with shards or sheets
of metal after loading to help contain the heat.)
These kilns are fairly easy to build, and go together in a day with the
materials on hand. Firing them takes quite a bit more practice in order
to know how fast to build the fire and when the pieces are done.
Good luck. Let me know if you would like me to fax you a diagram.

Eric Mindling
Manos de Oaxaca