Monday, April 23, 2012

Jane Gibson - Paper Kiln Firing

On Saturday 14th April 19 members met at Krowji, Arts Centre Redruth for a talk and demonstration of paper kilns by Jane Gibson. Jane’s interest in paper kilns and pit firing was inspired by the fire markings on low fired pots and the colour flashes from pit firing she saw on her travels to the Indian sub continent where she observed and documented the skills of village potters.
From this she has evolved a making and firing process that most can manage in a small workshop and back garden.
When we arrived at Krowji , Jane, with the help of John Osborne and other committee members, had already set up a base of firebricks and sawdust, ready for the ‘beehive’ kiln. She soon had us all tightly rolling newspapers ( preferably the Telegraph, she joked) into circles of varying sizes and constructing a dome shape about 3 ft in diameter and 2 ft high.We had all brought 2-3 bisque fired pots , some burnished. Pots were wrapped round in
a selection of copper wire, packets of salt or copper oxide, copper sulphate, dried banana skins or seaweed, copper wire, held on with cloth bandages. We hoped this alchemy would give fire markings of pinks, yellows and browns. Once the pots and sculptures were placed inside the paper beehive thin slats of wood were built like a wigwam around the outside and the kiln was lit.
While the kiln burned, we lunched and then were treated to second excellent presentation from Jane. She talked about the technique, her work, her travels to India and China (where she met CCGG members last year) that inform and inspire her, and her involvement with Kent Potters Association.
We managed to unpack the kiln later that afternoon. Better fuming and colour results were obtained from pots that had been burnished first, particularly over a terra sigillata slip. We all came away knowing how to construct a paper kiln, apply oxides, and other materials to our pots, and how fire a paper kiln. (The pots are finally washed and polished with beeswax to
protect them.)

There was enthusiastic talk of building another paper kiln on 12th May as well as the wood fired raku kiln, so if you are going to the next Kiln Firing day start making some pots, and save some newspaper !
It was a fascinating day. Jane was an excellent presenter and we left inspired to explore this technique further.
Further photos of the kiln firing are on our Facebook page and some interesting articles by Jane on India potters are on

Jenni Phillips

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