The Space Between
- An Exploration of Clay, Fire and Time
Large Woodfired Pots by:
Kevin Crowe, Noah Hughey-Commers, Vicky Hansen and Adam McNeil
Show Run: July 13 - Aug. 17
Closing Show Panel with the Firing Team
Moderator: Louise Cort, ceramics curator, Freer/Sackler
The Peril and Promise Firing Really Big Pots (Together) in Wood Fire Kiln
NEW - attendees are invited to a Potluck for the Potters on the roofdeck immediately following the panel. You MUST register separately from the panel to attend. Please go here.
Thanks to apprentices Sam Deering and Fisher Broder for their assistance.
Special thanks to photographer Kristen Finn.
About the Show:
This special show recreates the placement of very large pots in Tye River Pottery’s anagama kiln using photographs from the firing. The dimensions of the actual kiln are shown using bamboo poles and the now-fired pots are placed in the same location within the mocked up kiln in District Clay Gallery as they were during the five day firing.
This unique staging enables visitors to see for themselves how the careful placement of pots within the kiln directs fire and ash to create the spectacular glaze results.
A photographic journey through the making, loading, firing and unloading of the kiln is presented along with a large chart showing how the kiln temperature climbed.
District Clay has created two guides - How to Decode a Woodfired Pot and Walking the Firing at Tye River Pottery - as well as other educational materials for viewers.
About this Firing:
The four potters worked together for months making the work and then spent many preparing the kiln for firing. In early May 2019, the potters along with Kevin’s two apprentices, fired the anagama kiln for eight days. This included five days of continuously stoking the kiln with firewood. The firing featured mostly very large pots, which presented it’s own difficulties.
By shifting the perspective of the firing to very large pots, the firing gave the potters the space to explore the making and maturing of large pots together as well as the stacking and stoking patterns that exploit the negative space that large scale work produces.
Large pots always present risks as they are more liable to shatter during a high temperature firing. In this case, an entire kiln load of large pots made the warming, firing and cooling cycles of this firing especially fraught. Interestingly, as the firing progressed and pots shifted - and a few shattered - the crew became closer as they observed the fire doing its work.
By challenging old patterns, they saw new patterns and closer bonds emerge.
The Spaces Between:
In any wood-fired kiln, the space between pots is where heat is transferred to clay through currents, collectively called draft. Early in the firing the draft is made of hot air, later becoming fire, flowing around, under and across the pottery as it moves from firebox to chimney. Ash and unburnt carbon, carried by the draft, leaves its mark on every surface as it travels through the kiln.
The spaces between the pots determine the path of heat, ash and carbon which creates the unique patterns of glaze and color on each of the pots.