The 89 hour long firing

Filled to the brim with laughter and new learnings was the Anagama Firing with Bruce Dehnert at Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry. Bruce is a ceramist from America, well known for his sculptures and pottery, you can find his pieces in a number of museums and collections. Such a lively and energetic person to be around. 

We all had gathered to fire "Chinnagama" the Anagama kiln at GBP, it's a Japanese term for a cave kiln. Loading an anagama is the most crucial part of the process as it determines the path of the flames. Most of how smoothly the 4 day long firing goes and the effects the one wants on their pieces is highly dependent on just how the kiln is loaded. It took us almost three days to load the kiln and build the door.

Fueled with firewood, An anagama kiln has no physical structure separating the stoking space from the loaded pieces. Thus all Anagama pieces have a story to tell with it's natural ash glaze. Stoking occurs around the clock to achieve a variety of variables caused by oxidation to heavy reduction and the occasional raking.

Reading the flames, listening to the crackle, getting into the rhythm of stoking. There is a lot more beyond what the pyrometer shows. The Anagama kiln had 7 main stocking spots, 3 on each side and the main one at the front, along with a couple of active and passive dampers. Planning and firing such a kiln requires a lot of knowledge and experience. We were lucky to have the guidance of Bruce Dehnert and Ray Meeker. 


The Anagama special formula 

Flame + Ash + Clay body minerals = Natural Ash Glaze 

Along with heat, burning wood produces fly ash and volatile salts which settles on the pieces resulting in all these crazy variations .

Our 89 hour long Chinnagama firing, from making to unloading and everything in between, was an incredible workshop. Being surrounded by such inspiring people and mentors, accompanied with the pleasures of being back and working at Golden Bridge Pottery.