Controlling your outcome
As an artist who loves creating ceramic sculpture, firing my pieces in a kiln is a crucial step in the process. I have access to three types of kilns: an electric kiln, a gas kiln, and a wood kiln. Each kiln produces a unique effect on my pottery, and the firing process can make or break my pieces.
When I use the electric kiln, I feel in control. It’s easy to operate, and I can precisely control the temperature, atmosphere, and timing of the firing. I can program the settings, set the desired firing cycle, and forget about it. This type of kiln is perfect for achieving consistent results, and I can ensure that my pieces will turn out just as I have envisioned them.
However, there are times when I want my work to have a more rustic, earthy effect. That’s when I turn to the gas kiln. Firing in a gas kiln is a bit more challenging because it requires a steady supply of gas and careful monitoring to maintain the desired temperature and atmosphere. The firing process can take several hours, and the outcome is largely determined by the skill of the operator. The flame creates an uneven distribution of heat, which creates different patterns on the pottery’s surface. This effect gives my pieces a unique quality that I can’t achieve with an electric kiln.
Finally, when I want my work to reflect the natural environment, I use the wood kiln. Firing in a wood kiln is the most ancient and traditional of the three. It requires a significant amount of wood, which is burned to produce heat and ash, which melt and fuse with the pottery’s surface. Firing in a wood kiln is a very labor-intensive and time-consuming process, which can take several days. The outcome is largely unpredictable, as the temperature and atmosphere are affected by many factors, such as the type of wood, the weather conditions, and the placement of the work inside the kiln. However, the effect it has on my sculpture is unique and cannot be achieved in any other way. The final product has an “organic” or “natural” feel, which is perfect for pieces that reflect the natural environment.
In the end, my preference is to use the electric kiln because I can control the outcome. But, I still appreciate the unique qualities of the gas and wood kilns, which add a layer of unpredictability and excitement to the firing process. Each type of kiln adds its own flavor to my pieces, and firing in a kiln is a delicate art that requires skill and patience.