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lowfire woodfire

updated sat 28 oct 00


Stephani Stephenson on thu 26 oct 00

In response to Rd Jones question about wood firing at cone 06-04

I've had some experience in this area with lovely results.

A few things I have noticed. Not all lowfire red bodies are created
equal. Some scum and look dull at that temp while others flux just the
right amount and take on the nuances of the fire beautifully. I would
suggest trying a few different red bodies. even mix up some tests
yourself. When formulating bodies try different dry red clays, you will
find, for example, that Red Art dry clay melts at a lower temp than say
Carbondale, and has a different color, so experiment to find a
responsive body

I think someone already mentioned this, but once you are well into the
firing, don't fire the kiln for 'evenness', fire it for drama.

The lowfire woodfire is somewhat different, in that you won't be firing
to create lots of ash deposit on the ware. At that temp the ash will
likely not flux as it will at higher temps. Much of the ash will likely
look dry and not as interesting, though sometimes ash will create nice

My tack is to create turbulence in the kiln and to alternate periods of
active oxidation with periods of reduction. Think like nature.

Stack the pots so that some will be exposed to the kiln environment
while others will be protected by the presence of other pots. Tumble
stack if it is unglazed ware. See how this affects the firing. Stacking
with this in mind will create pockets of oxidation and reduction effects
on the clay and give the pieces a bit more drama and that wood fired
look. Something I have done in the past is to glaze the insides of
pieces such as bowls and cups and leave the outer surface bar. Also you
can treat the outer surface with a light solution of soda ash, borax ,

There are some lovely glazes at that temp which look surprisingly
earthy mottled and even stoneware like, complementing a red clay
beautifully. Some contain a percentage of wood ash. . Of course you
won't get the same big melt as in a higher fire but you can get some
very lovely pots and sculptures out of a lower temp wood fire. It's kind
of part way between a pit fire and a high temperature woodfire.

Also I have put pieces in sagaars at this temp., piling or sprinkling in
combustibles, epsom salts, oxides,etc. to further liven up the brew.
similar to pitfire, sawdust fir techniques.

I would suggest the cone 04 to 02 temp if at all possible. The more
fervently atoms dance, the more things happen, (unless of course your
clay is really lowfire and can't handle anything over cone 06)

best wishes
Stephani Stephenson
Leucadia, CA