Firing three times a year in PA with some of the best ceramics artists always bring me such joy. Every firing Jack Troy invites new artists, old friends, and his regulars. The summer is when we fire his larger anagama kiln, the Komuri. The size of the kiln demands for a larger community of artists to gather together for seven days. This summer we had the chance to meet a great Salt fire artist from British Colombia Cathi Jefferson and a grad student from Utah State Antra Sinha.
As all the work is wadded and stacked on shelves to be loaded we begin to see the massive amount of art that will be part of the firing. It is always impressive to see how many pieces will fit into an anagama kiln.
Once the last pieces are loaded the side door is bricked up, making sure to leave a few plugs for stoking and "peeps" to see the cone packs. While Rob worked on the door Jack gathered leaves and small pieces of wood from the area to start a small fire just outside of the right mouse hole. We begin every firing with our ceremony and the person with the closest birthday starts the fire. This year BJ Watson was lucky to have the honor (her birthday was on the day of the lighting!)
After the fire was set and we all began our shifts for the next six days we found different challenges throughout the week. We were met with some difficult weather and a sad end to our fantastic supply of side stoking wood. We all persevered and on the last days we reached over cone 12 in the front and possibly cone 11 in the back.
As we wait for the unloading on July 1st I try not to imagine how the work turned out. I keep in mind a lesson I learned from my first mentor when I first started wood firing in the early weeks of January 2001
"participate don't anticipate" (Bill Shillalies)