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Exploring Ceramics

June 13, 2012

Dawn Chorus and Juno Enterprise have been delivering ceramic practice and ceramic history learning since 1982; with extensive pilot sessions, publications and exhibitions on clays, glazes, kiln building and ceramic history.

We have researched the design of sustainable wood fired kilns, considering temperature and atmosphere.  Kilns must reach required temperatures and yet withstand the temperature. Air flow designs, how the air that enters the firebox, is heated and travel through the kiln and out of the chimney, may be up draught or down draught. Oxygen is also needed for the burn and enters at the fire box. The firebox size in comparison or ratio to the kiln chamber volume is important in the design, especially in terms of  sustainable efficiency, this is hugely helped by good insulation.  Wood firing has another consideration, when choosing building materials we must remember the highly alkaline nature of the wood fire atmosphere…traditional firebrick is eaten away by a wood firing schedules. Not all kiln designs  include separation of firebox and the chamber, for example Anagama kilns. But our primary aim is to find a non fossil fuel design, using short rotation coppice that supports biodiversity and locks carbon in growth and a lean burn, non polluting design that sustainably uses the wood without carbon loss that would add to climate change…whilst still reflecting traditional craft practice. The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Green Task Force have been looking at such issues. Professor Ben Culbertson of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, carried out work to utilizes renewable fuels to fire a kilns; his work focused on vegetable oils.

Whilst we have extensive knowledge of industrial and studio ceramics, it is our expertise in traditional British rural ceramics and international indigenous ceramic (see our link to the Ethiopian Widows Pottery-linked to EWKET) that is leading our research and practice.

We are interested in how different species of wood reflect in glazes and in wild pottery, digging and processing clay locally.

Both organisations have board members who are ceramic experts, including studio potters, ceramic historians and ceramic archaeologists.


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