Can You Fire Pottery in a Wood Stove?
Wood firing is the oldest method of turning clay into ceramics, discovered thousands of years ago and used by nearly every primitive civilization. You can still fire pottery in a wood stove today using the same techniques that have been passed down through the millennia.
Begin by molding your clay using whatever techniques you prefer, whether on a wheel or shaped entirely by hand. The cone number of the clay you use will be important during the firing process, so you will need to make a note of it. Allow the finished pottery to air dry, letting it sit out for 24 hours before firing to remove as much moisture as possible.
Starting the Fire
The clay must be heated gradually for successful firing. Instead of inserting your pottery into an already-roaring fire, build a new fire around the clay. This will allow the clay to slowly warm as the fire around it grows in intensity, avoiding any damage that can result from sudden changes in heat.
Firing Your Clay
More wood must be continually added to the fire, working carefully to ensure that you do not smash the pot in the process. Proceed until the fire reaches the ideal temperature for the clay's cone number, using a wood stove thermometer to monitor it. Consult a ceramic cone temperature chart if you're unsure what this is, a link to which can be found in the Resource section of this article. The fire must now be maintained at this temperature for as long as possible — exactly how long will depend on the type of clay you're using.
Clay that is fired in a wood stove will reach a smooth bisque, but will often have mottled coloration due to the uneven heat and proximity of the flames. Much of the ash that adheres to the pottery can be washed away after firing, but some permanent discoloration is inevitable. Many potters find this coloring attractive and view it as a positive side effect of wood firing. If you prefer a more even color, wrap the clay in tin foil before firing to protect it.
Mark Keller has been writing everything from short stories to political commentary over the course of the past decade. He has written professionally since 2009 with articles appearing on LibertyMaven.com, Penguinsightings.org, Pepidemic.com and various other websites. He is a theater major at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
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