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woodfiring workshop

updated sun 4 oct 98


Veena Raghavan on sat 3 oct 98

I recently had my first woodfiring experience in upstate New York. I wanted
to share this with my fellow Clayarters because, what could have been a
really miserable experience turned into a great one, all because of one
person. We were six potters, most of us experienced potters, but none in
woodfiring. The woodfirer, who was supposed to lead the workshop, fell ill,
and Ken Bichell was roped in at the very last moment. The workshop was
supposed to have been totally organized and ready, and Ken was just
supposed to come and help us load and fire the kiln. He had never seen or
used it before, so was flying blind. It turned out that the kiln had not
been used for a couple of years and was not in perfect condition, and the
person organizing the workshop had little or no knowledge about woodfiring.
Thus, the kiln was not ready and there were othre missing ingredients for a
successful woodfiring. Ken arrived the night before we were to fire, took
the situation in hand, worked like crazy, and was determined that we would
have a good firing.
The reason why I want to post this is that, if there is anyone out
there who needs a woodfirer to help them with the construction of their
kiln, to run a woodfire workshop, or to help a not-too-experienced
woodfirer or group with their workshop, he would be a fantastic person to
have with you.
Ken has been a professional potter for 16 years, and has fired
exclusively with wood for 9. He was a resident artist at the Archie Bray
Foundation, and Baltimore Clayworks. He conducts workshops on firing a
variety of kilns ranging from a single chambered 28 foot long anagama to a
6 chambered Noborigama. He enjoys the challenge of working with new kilns
and figuring out "how they think" His workshops geographically range from
where he lives in West Virginia to Taiwan. His work has been exhibited
nationally and internationally. To top all of this, he is a great person
and kept his sense of humor through some pretty frustrating situations. He
was a fund of interesting information (remember we were all wood
novices,and needed to understand the process) and was very giving. We had a
wonderful time and came home with some very nice pots.
Hope this information will be of help to anyone who needs a person
like Ken. He can be reached by e-mail at .

Veena Raghavan