Wood Kiln Loading Techniques with Simon Levin
Filmed almost entirely inside an anagama kiln, this video is a little bit different than most other wood firing videos. Rather than focusing on the firing, Simon Levin focuses solely on loading techniques, offering practical guidance and strategies for getting the best effects out of every firing. (Scroll for more!)
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Runtime: 1 hour, 30 minutes
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Loading is firing!
There’s a saying in the wood-fire community that “loading is firing.” Loading determines how well the kiln fires, affects where the heat goes, and has a direct effect on how the work looks after the firing is done. So Simon chose to share the loading techniques that he has learned over the years to help other wood firers improve their results.
Here’s a sampling of what’s included:
- Learn how to understand the flame path and discover ways to move the flame through the kiln to create the best outcomes.
- Find out how to compartmentalize a large kiln into smaller sections so it can be fired more often.
- Get tips on placing posts, shelves, and ware so that you are using the maximum space possible in your kiln.
- Pick up creative wadding techniques to create beautiful marks on your pots.
- And much more!
Honor your labor!
At the point of loading a wood kiln, a LOT of work has already gone into the pots, so Simon stresses not rushing the load. The quality of the end product is directly related to the choices made during loading. You will pick up tons of ideas to consider from the time you are making pots for your firing through placing that last pot in the kiln!
How Many Pots Can You Get OUT of a Firing?
Wood firing is labor intensive. So many people think they should try to fit as many pots as possible into the wood kiln. But Simon advises that, when loading, you should think about how many pots you can get out of a kiln. If you load carelessly or have too many pots crammed into the kiln, you are likely to wind up with more lackluster pots than you’d like. Instead, take your time and place each pot considering how that placement will impact the final result.
Wood firing is a process fraught with variables. Simon’s practical techniques gleaned from years of experience will help you organize, make sense of, and utilize these variables to improve your outcomes in atmospheric firings.
About the artist
Simon Levin has been working in clay since 1990, when an elective ceramics course in college changed the direction of his life, leading to an MA and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He is a full-time studio potter working exclusively with wood firing. His work is exhibited internationally, and appears in several contemporary ceramics books. Simon is a writer for many ceramics journals, and in 2013 he traveled to Taiwan as a Senior Fulbright Scholar researching local materials. He has built wood-fire kilns for colleges and universities in the US, Taiwan, and China. His apprenticeship program has trained and influenced 17 young potters since 2005. A resident of Wisconsin for 18 years, Simon has recently moved to Pawnee, Illinois, where he is currently re-establishing his pottery business. To learn more about Simon Levin and see more images of his work, please visit www.simonlevin.com.