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Tyler Miller

Time To Start Planning A Kiln

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I think I've betrayed my interested in Korean onggi with my first post on the forum.  It is among my favourite pottery traditions.  I love it so much I'm making a sincere effort to incorporate its philosophies into my work--using what's around you to produce a clay body and glaze.


To that end, I've been working up a clay body from clay from my property and a glaze from ash from firewood scavenged from the land.  I've made progress, but I've got a lot of tweaking to go.


The last step is a kiln.  The korean kilns seem to be made from the very same clay as the clay body.  At least, that's the information I received from an ESL teacher friend I have in Korea who has been my man in Havana (or in this case, Ulsan).  Photos from the Ulsan Onggi Pottery museum describe the bricks used in the kiln as "earthen" bricks. Over the earthen brick arch, is piled damp clay soil.


There's a lot of ambiguity in the term "earthen," so my assumption could be wrong, but it seems logical that it would be the same clay as the pot bodies--both are described as "earthen."  In a brief email conversation with Gas Kimishima (I fear I scared him off with too many photos of my work in one email :( ), he mentioned that simple, unfired mud and straw bricks can be used in the construction of anagama and climbing kilns.  He said he knows of a potter in Japan who has done this successfully.  The Smithonsian study of Onggi bciskepottery posted confirms this, that mud-straw bricks were used (and it seems to me may have been the norm for quite some time).  This is an important point to me, as either firing bricks on my land or bringing fired bricks to it would increase the cost of this project exponentially--it's a very very remote location.  It's 5 minutes from the nearest power line :).


Well, that's a lot of explanation of the project, the reason I'm posting is in the hope that some of the wood-fire and kiln-building experts would help with some advice.  This is the first kiln of this type I will have built, and I would love some experienced guidance to help minimize mistakes and construction time.  I would really appreciate even the smallest tips. 

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I am totally blown away by the quantity and quality of pottery in Ontario ... I was born there but was not aware of pottery until I became a potter here in N Carolina and visited the area again as a potter. Jonathan's in London is a world class pottery gallery featuring only Canadian potters ... Worth a long visit if you are in the area. I will be teaching at Tony's Pinecroft Pottery in Aylmer this June and hope to spend time touring wineries and potteries and restaurants!

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Guest JBaymore

I've been in South Korea and have some images of traditional kiln construction out of those raw clay bricks they use that I shot there.  Be glad to send you as disc of them if you PM me your snail mail address (too large to file transfer).


Also note that Korean Onngi clay is fired a bit lower than a lot of western wood fired work typically is.  We've literally melted Korean Onngi pots into pancakes in the wood kilns in Japan when I've been working there with some Koreans. 





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