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wood reduction/wood firing/soda & salt - bourry box kiln,

updated fri 16 oct 98


June Perry on thu 15 oct 98

Several people have written me about this booklet. Here is the information:
Title: "Layed Back Wood Firing" by J.King and S. Harrison (That's Steve

There's no publisher listed on the back but it lists the printers:

Frank E. Ollis Pty, Limited - Printers - Liverpool - 1978

The kiln shown in the booklet is a 30cu ft, single bourry box, cross draft;
but you could scale it down if you keep the proportions relative.

Also New Zealand pottery Vol 23/2 Spring 1981 has a nice article with good
pictures of Peter Gibb's double bourry box kiln along with firing
instructions. In the same issue is another article and plans by Glen Beattie
from Coromandel for a single bourry box, cross draft.You may be able to get a
past issue, or have them send you a copy of the article. Here's the address
for N.Z.Potter ( I don't know if it's still valid).

New Zealand Potter
P.O. Box 12-162 Wellington North, New Zealand

If memory serves me, I got the "Layed back Wood Firing" book through either
Pottery in Australia or N.Z. Potter or Ceramic Review. Both Pottery in
Australia and Ceramic Review are on line and you can write them to see if they
sell the booklet, or can put you in touch with Steve Harrison.

Also, Pottery in Australia had a wonderful article/issue on Wood firing in the
mid to late 80's. There was a bourry box kiln in the article that was built
using Steve Harrisons recommended proportions. In fact those were the
proportion I used in my kiln design. It is an excellent article with a great
deal of useful information. I would see if you could track down that issue.
I'm sorry but I dont' have the original issue, just some pulled pages, which
unfortunately don't list the date, etc.

Also, for the person inquiring about Noborigama plans, the April 1989 Ceramics
Monthly has a nice article and good cross section drawing of a double
chambered climbing kiln (Noborigama).

Just found a bit more info -- I'm pretty sure I got the Steve Harrison, J.
King booklet from "Pottery in Australia" magazine --either an ad, or they
were selling it with some of their other booklets. In the one article they
list, next to Stephen and Janine's booklet "Potters Society of Australia,

Also, Pottery In Australia vol 20, no2, Nov/Dec. 1981 PP 12-15 had an article
"Wood Kiln Design" by Stephen Harrison.

Another source for kiln plans is a "Kiln Drawings" from the Division of Art
and Design, N.Y. State colled of Ceramics Alfred. (Alfred has a web site. Just
contact the librarian and she can steer you in the right direction.) I think
most of the plans in that are non- bourry box fireboxes; but there is a cross
draft catenary castable arch kiln in there that could easily, I think, be
built with a bourry box firebox.

Also, Ceramics Montly 1981 has a good article on casting a catenary arch kiln
-- lots of photos.

Pottery In Australia also sold a little booklet "A Simple Wood-Fired Kiln" by
Ivan Englund, also published by the Potters Society of Australia, 39 Mary
Street, Longueville, NSW 2066 Australia. (Same place that should have the
"Layed Back Wood Firing booklet." The Englun booklet is for a teeny tiny
little wood kiln (no bourry box). But it might be sure the thing for someone
wanting to start very small.

With this information you should have no trouble designing a bourry box kiln.
If I had to do it over again, I would design a smaller kiln with one firebox
that I could fire more often. I would probably go with a castable catenary
arch sprayed with ITC inside, with maybe some fiber glued on the outer arch
and sprayed with itc as well to firm it up and help with the insulation. If on
a budget you can cover it wil heavy duty silver foil :-). The Catenary
eliminates the costly steel frame. I built mine on a frame because I knew I'd
be moving it and designed it so a forklift could just get under the kiln
chamber and lift it, once I have the chimney and fireboxes down.

I would make sure you allow lots of little mouseholes allow the ash pit to
burn down so it won't clog the throat. I even put little holes in each of
areas channel areas where the throat enters the kiln. It's better to have more
air to burn down that ash pile. Also, even with a small bourry box kiln, if
you stick a poker in the ash pit and stir it up good every so often it helps
spread the ash throughout the kiln. On my first firing I invited four of my
friends to put pots in the kiln and help with the firing. Otto and Vivika came
over with some lovely pots and we put this large unglazed porcelain vase of
Otto's on the tops shelf. WOW, what a gorgeous pot that was. In fact he
entered it in a competition. They had been taking working down to Fred Olsens
Anagama and helping fire the kiln, and they said they never got work as nice
as what they got from my 40cu. ft. bourry kiln. So, you can get some wonderful
looking pots out of these kilns without sending up loads of carbonous smoke.
The bourry box works on a downdraft principle and gives you almost total
combustion. So it is clean firing, as far as wood kilns go. I also like the
fact that I don't have to chop up a 1/2 a cord of little pieces of wood all
the time.

Also, you can cheat a little. I've sprayed the shoulder of some pots with a
little corn syrup and then taken various ashes and run them through a very
fine, little kitchen sieve over the shoulder. I got a pretty strong yellow
from lemon ash which was very intriguing.

I think if you follow Stephens instructions and proportions, you will be fine.
Bourry boxes have pretty criticial size requirements for optimum performance
and Stephen gives you all that information in the booklet and articles

I may be re-building my fireboxes this fall, finally. It's been a couple of
years of concentrating on re-doing our house and gardens and then this year
has been a year of one injury after another. :-( In a few weeks we're
starting another house project (putting in all new windows), so I am going to
take refuge in my studio and maybe, finally, get those boxes done!

By the way, does anyone have any great ideas on how to handle a lid for they
bourry box? I have a swing door to load the upper hob, but wanted a lid to
lift in case the wood got stuck, or I wanted to top off the upper hob with
smaller pieces of fuel. So I designed a steel frame and put in a thick piece
of Babcock Wilcox fireboard that was very easy to lift by hand using a little
lever that is welded to the fram. But it was a disaster after one firing. The
board did not hold up. My next though it maybe some insulating firebrick, but
I don't know if it would hold in the frame since I have to leave opening for
air. Should I mortar it in and hope for the best. I know I can probably drill
through the steel frame and insert rods, but I'd like someone to tell me that
that won't be necessary. :-) Come to think of it, maybe the board would be
fine if I sprayed it with itc??? All suggestions very welcome! :-)

Good luck!
Warmest regards,