Why choose wood-firing?

Developed over thousands of years and then refined for another thousand, wood-firing, perhaps is entering the age of its greatest transformation to date. It now is being rediscovered across the globe, not only as an ancient tradition, but also as an expressive tool for contemporary art. To the artist, wood-firing offers a unique beauty and opens new lines of exploration.

Wood-firing used to be the only means to fire clay. Today it is the choice that can lead to stunningly beautiful ceramics. The effort required for wood-firing now is voluntary. With electric and gas kilns offering the ceramic artist almost effortless firing, why opt for seemingly unending days and nights of labour? Why, in the face of modern convenience, are ceramics artists internationally electing to wood-fire ceramics? Beauty offers the answer. It’s not an “Oh, that’s lovely”, sort of beauty, but an extraordinary beauty — a heart-achingly arresting beauty, a beauty of epic proportions, a beauty worth working for, a beauty only achievable by way of wood-firing. What else could motivate artists to dedicate so much time and effort?

Wood-firing is a gripping and often lifelong undertaking. Like all endeavours worthy of long study, wood-firing is infinitely subtle and endlessly varying. A firing in progress may appear no more complicated than keeping a bonfire burning – just put another log on the fire. But those who persist in wood-firing soon learn how rich and complex such apparent simplicity is. With numerous methods of vitrifying clay from which to choose, wood-firing now is practiced with an eye toward producing surfaces only possible by that means. From this embrace of the beauty of wood-fired ceramics begins the exploration to discover all that might be possible.

From “Japanese wood-fired Ceramics” by Masakasu Kusakabe and Marc Lancet












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