Clay Balls

My friend Joy Brown lives up the road in Kent and is a potter/ceramic artist. She has a large anagama climbing wood kiln that is being loaded as I write this (it takes a week to load the thing). In another life (galaxy…) I “did clay” too and Joy has been bugging me to make something to put in the kiln, just for the fun of it, just for old time’s sake. Last year I helped fire it putting in a 10 hour shift stoking and just loved it: loved the rhythm of it, the people who came and went, and I particularly liked working with Joy who is a very special person.

So, she called the other day and said time was running out and I’d better get my butt in gear and make something.

So I did. I decided that instead of trying to make anything to eat on (dishes) which would be quite humiliating after a 25 year retirement from clay, I’d make some “garden geology” in the form of a set of rocks or “balls” that we’d place around our property: in our stone walls, in our pond, in our garden, even burried for someone to dig up after we’re compost.


The minute I got my hands on the clay it was rekindled love. I can see now that there will soon be a new category in this weblog called “clay” as I’m going to do a lot more of this.

The pieces above are about 6″ in diameter, made with two slabs of clay wrapped around a ball of crumpled newspaper then smoothed and paddled so they’re relatively regular. There’s an air hole (1/8″) on the bottom and they should shrink around the newspaper just fine and it should burn out. After they’re cool (down from maybe 2600 F) there might be some ash that spills out the hole, I’m not quite sure.

Joy Brown’s anagama kiln

kilnI have a friend up the road who has a very large anagama kiln. This is a Japanese climbing kiln, fired with wood.

A long time ago, in another time, I was a potter so I have an appreciation for this kiln and for firing it with wood.

This kiln took a week to fire and enough wood to heat our house for 2 years, maybe longer. Of course, 2400 degrees F is pretty darn hot.

I did a 12 hour shift stoking. It was a heck of a lot of fun.

This picture was taken just a bit above 1500 degrees F through one of the side portholes. I liked it.