Ash Fest 2015 Week 1

          Arriving at Finch Pottery in Baily North Carolina after three days on the road I was greeted by Dan Finch himself sitting in the shade on the porch of his gallery. After welcoming me, Dan showed me around the studio and kiln yard and then directed me towards a shady spot to set up camp for the next two weeks. Not particularly involved, my tent took only a short while to set up and I began unloading my pots and preparing myself and my work for Ash Fest 2015! Hosted by Dan on his exquisite property with loading and firing lead by Justin Lambert and Logan Wannamaker, 20 or so national and international ceramic artists would call Finch Pottery home for two short weeks.

            All ware for the firing arrived bisqued and shino slips and glazes developed by Justin and Logan were provided for us to use, though we were encouraged to leave most ware raw and only glaze the insides of functional ware. An impressive and even daunting sight the more than 1000 pots laid out next to the kiln awaited loading into Dan’s Mama Anagama capable of firing more than 700 cubic feet of pottery. The loading, which took every bit of three days, is the hardest part of a firing requiring skill and nuanced attention to detail ensuring the arrangement of the ware would facilitate the flame and ash effects throughout the entirety of the kiln. Bricking the door closed on Tuesday evening and candling the kiln overnight, we as a group spent the day Wednesday touring Mark Hewitt’s studio and began firing the kiln in earnest Wednesday night. As shift leader on shift 3 my group and I spent Thursday morning raising the kiln ~50° f/hour in a slow but steady climb with the kiln reaching body reduction Thursday evening. Now, at the time of writing the kiln is entirely above 2100°f with less than 100 degrees in difference between the front and back of Dan’s nearly 30 foot ‘Mamagama’.