Cleveland Institute of Art: Building a Wood Fired Kiln

Cleveland Institute of Art: Building a Wood Fired Kiln


I’m Bill Brouillard. I teach ceramics at CIA
with Judith Salomon. We’ve been working
on this wood kiln. The whole class project
is learn about wood and atmospheric
firing, build the kiln, figure out your clay bodies,
test your clay bodies, make your work, load
and fire the kiln, and that’s pretty
much the class. We’re out on the edge
of the Holden Arboretum. We have a CIA supporter whose
given us permission to use land to build this furnace. We’re hoping for a one-day,
24-hour-style firing with the whole class. We hope to use this
kiln as a resource for, not only ceramics majors,
but anybody at CIA that wants to make use of it. We’re going to do something
called tumble stacking. That’s when you put
work on top of work, and we separate them
with wads of clay. The inner core of the
kiln is all hard brick, and that’s good for
maybe 3,000 degrees. We design this firebox so
it’s sort of a top loader, and it self feeds
down in the bottom. Most of the heat is going
to come from the bottom part of the firebox. We’re going to leave
space to side stoke it. When you put the wood in,
you have to heat the wood up to get it to
ignition temperature. Then what you’re left
with is mostly charcoal, which is pure carbon. Those logs are
going to break up, and they’re going
to fall down here. It’s going to suck it
right through the kiln. It’s going to give us a
much ashier, better result than having a big
firebox down here, which is the traditional design. Part of the assignment when
they make their work is they have to make work for
the tumble section, and then they have to make some
work for the middle section, and they have to make some
work for the back section. It will be like firing
three different kilns all at the same time.

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