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 Marvin Bjurlin | Home > 
NAU International Wood Firing Conference
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, hosted an International Wood Firing Conference in October of 06.  The conference was preceeded by 10 days of firings in 8 kilns.  The conference was attended by folks from 11 countries and about half of the states of the US.  This album documents the pre-conference firings during which more than 43 cords of wood were consumed.  Some of the firings lasted up to 10 days days including cooling and unloading.
At the conclusion are photos of the pieces I had in the preconference firings. Both sides of each piece are illustrated.
Date(s): October, 2006. Album by Marvin Bjurlin. Photos by Marvin Bjurlin. 1 - 80 of 80 Total. 715 Visits.
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NAU kiln site
When I reached the kiln site on October 2 after 30 hours of driving across the US, loading had already begun.  It was my objective to have a piece or two in each of the different kilns. In the next 3 days of loading thousands of pieces, I was fortunate to have had all 12 of my sculptures included.

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Tozan Noborigama
The Noborigama is a multichambered kiln.  This famous one, now firing for 21 years, had 6 staking spaces: the firebox, 4 chambers and the spark well just before the chimney.  Typically used for glazed pots, this kiln took 7 days to fire.

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Tozan Anagama
This large single chamber kiln was built at the same time as the Noborigama.  Both are traditional Japanese kiln designes which have been used in that country for a milenium.

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The Train
This kiln form, developed and now comon in the United States required only 3 days to fire. This enabled it to be filled twice before the conference.

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Doublewide Train
This enlarged Train kiln was fired for the first time in connection with the conference.

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Double Catenary
Actually two seperate kilns sharing one chimney, this structure had one chamber devoted to soda firing and the other to straight wood.

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Small Anagama
Even though refered to as the small anagama, this kiln held a few hundred pieces.

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Tumble stacking
Each piece put into a wood firing atmosphere is has clay wads supporting it.  This proceedure enables some works to be "tumble" stacked to maximize the effective use of the kiln space.

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Tight fit!
Stacking work in the Noborigama was done by individuals standing in the side stoaking area, a tight fit.

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Thousands of pots
All together in all of the kilns, a great number of pieces got fired.  Some were loaded in this straightforward manner, each supported by clay wads.

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The Spark Chamber
Don included one of my fish among the half dozen or so pieces placed in the spark chamber of the Noborigama.  This last space imediately preceeds the chimney.

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Draft inducement
At the same time that the primary firebox was lit, the spark chamber had a small fire started which was designed to induce a draft.

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Wood Supply
NAU had hired someone for most of the past summer to do nothing but split and stack wood for the firings.  A total of 43 cords were consumed in the kilns.

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Tozan Noborigama
The firemouth of the Noborigama was bricked up and sealed prior to ignition.

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Candeling
Each of the firings in all of the kilns was commenced with a small flame designed to finish drying out the wads and to preheat all of the ware.

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Smoke
The entire kiln yard was engulfed by a haze of smoke which lasted most of the week or more of firing.

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Wood Transport
Individuals signed up for 4 hour shifts round the clock to bring wood to the kilns and add it to the fireboxes at appropriate intervals.

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Stoking
The small train kiln had a firemouth at eye level.  Every 10 or 15 minutes the space had to be filled with split logs.

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Flame
Folks who wood fire are drawn to fire.  The flames floating around the wares are a visual image which is captivating.  It is part of the magic of this ancient way of firing pottery.

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More smoke
Although any given kiln produces smoke intermitently, when 6 or 7 are firing simultaneously, there is a general smokyness to the kiln yard.

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More Smoke
The wood supply for the NAU kiln yard is provided by the Forest Service as a result of their culling the region of trees killed by the bark beetle.

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Community
30-40 potters where on hand to provide the labor to fire the kilns day and night.  This shared effort yields a very close knit community among wood firing potters.

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Three Chimneys

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Kiln Shed
The largest of the sheds housed the two Tozan kilns built 20 years ago and in steady use since then.

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Blow holes
The blow holes on the the top of the Noborigama were an exciting specticle at the peak of the firing.

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A Spectator Sport
Many folks just could not leave.  The entire idea of a container of fire at 2500 degrees F. held at that temperature for days on end is captivating.

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Don Bendel and Vic Bassman
Two seasoned kiln masters reaching the end of their stamina after many days of continuous responsibility.

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Side Stoking
The Noborigama kiln required side stoking each individual chamber to bring it up to temperature.

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The Results
Most folks would look at this image and see a mess, a disaster.  An experienced wood firing potter would see the incomperable beauty of clay after an extended encounter with fire.

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Don Bendel
Now retired from the NAU Ceramics program, Don Bendel is still found fully committed to participation in the firing of the Tozan kilns he built with the cooperation of his now disceased Japanese friend, Yukio Yamamoto.

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Don Bendel's Piece
A major exhibition was held featuring the work of all of the Conference presenters.  This large piece of sculpture was made by Don
Bendel.


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Jason Hess
Most of the credit for Conference planning and orginization over the last two years goes to Jason.

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Bottle Forms
These bottle forms by Jason were presented in groupings demonstrating the wide range of colors and textures resulting from heavy ash build up during the long firings.

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Fred Herbst
Fred, a new friend, teach the ceramics program at Corning Community College, in New York.  His small program is blessed with an Anagama kiln, one of only 4 or so to be found in community colleges!

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Functional Pots
Fred's lovely functional wares were included in the presenter's exhibition.

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Norm Wheeler
Norm, another new friend, is from Ontario.  He has recently rebuilt his train kiln.  At some future date I will be participating in a firing with him.

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Tea Bowls
Norm brought some of his tea bowls to be included in the pre-conference firings.

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The small Anagama
This photo provides a sense of scale for the smaller of the two Anagama kilns at NAU.

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Fire Flashing
The wood kiln flame wrapping around any complex form "paints" the surface with subtle variations of color which are flawlessly married to the topography.

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Shades of Brown
While a superficial glance would suggest that everything is brown, a more careful examination reveals an extremely complex range of color.

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Wad Marks
On a tumble stacked (reclining) piece and subtle discoloration around the clay support wads adds to the complex surface character.

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Lota Lota
This piece even with it's delicate parts survived the rigors of the firing in the small Anagama.

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A School of Fish.
The 12 pieces I took to the conference to swim in the fire all came out to my satisfaction.  Not pots, these forms stood out among the thousands of pieces fired.  They received many compliments.

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Mini Pots
One individual brought her collection of pieces in egg cartons.  These mini forms were among some of my favorites.

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Lota Lota
Starboard side
18 x 14 x 6
Fired in the Tozan Anagama


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Lota Lota
Port Side

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Lizardfish
Starboard Side
15 x 11 x 6
Fired in the Tozan Anagama


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Lizardfish
Port Side

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Pirana
Starboard Side
16 x 14.5 x 6
Fired in the small Anagama, tumble stacked


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Pirana
Port Side

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Harlequin Tuskfish
Starboard Side
14 x 12.5 x 8.5
Fired in the Tozan Noborigama, 2nd chamber


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Harlequin Tuskfish
Port Side

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Javanese Ricefish
Starboard Side
16 x 12.5 x 7.5
Fired in the Tozan Anagama


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Javanese Ricery
Port Side

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Marbled Hatchetfish
Starboard Side
12 x 16 x 6
Fired in small Train Kiln throat arch


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Marbled Hatchetfish
Port Side

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Pirate Perch
Starboard Side
14.5 x 14 x 7
Fired in the Noborigama spark chamber


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Pirate Perch
Port Side

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Bluebanded Goby
Starboard Side
12 x 10.5 x 5.5
Fired in the Soda catenary kiln


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Bluebanded Goby
Port Side

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Sweetlips
8.5 x 10 x 4.5

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Sweetlips

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Sweetlips
8.5 x 10 x 4.5

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Sweetlips

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Sweetlips

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Sweetlips

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Sweetlips
8.5 x 10 x 4.5

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Sweetlips

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Surface Detail

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