The regular wood firing was held in The International Ceramic Research Center – Guldagergaard (Denmark)
in the beginning of October 2005, and I was happen to take part in it. The cross draught kiln here was built by known author of “The Bible
of the Kiln Builder” Frederic Olsen (USA) with the assistance group.
The exterior of exotic form with two fireboxes, four chimneys, lot of ash-pits, access holes and dampers make it
look like The Dragon, half buried itself in the earth. All these things are strictly controlled by the Director Ann Linnemann and studio technician
Rick Saaby (both ceramic artists) – they are managing all the firing process and making the most important operations themselves. It’s getting clear,
there is no other way, when you see how extremely sensitive is this kiln for any action outside.
But it will be later. Now the beginning – careful installation the pieces, which artists brought from the few countries,
then the fireboxes’ completion. It occupies two days and at last we are setting the fire in the first firebox for drying and heating the kiln. From this
moment for the next three days and nights all participants starting to work firing shifts two by two, by turn, to keep the temperature in scheduled range.
The work is not easy! The Dragon eats wood with pleasure and readily reacts for any delay in stocking as well as
for any adjustments of ash-pits and dampers, which provided in frightening amount. Just closer to the end of firing, the artists, working for the
first time, understanding the whole sense of operations done by Ann and Rick, though they explaining every step.
Finally we’ve got it – the last cones fallen and it is time to stop fire. Many workers’ hands required. We are stocking
both fireboxes up to the limit – the temperature is on maximum and The Dragon deeply hoots of strength. Quickly closing all ash-pits, access holes
and sticking any possible air entries, then carefully closing all dampers and even the chimneys' outs. May be it’s namely the turning point for the fate of firing.
Five days from this time will be spent for The Dragon cooling down. And artists, like by chance going across the kiln yard and
looking on thermocouple indicator, will say to each other – Oh! – 900! Then – Oh! – 500! Etc.. As well we used this time for visiting lovely places in Denmark.
The morning of unpacking day in The Center everyone meets with excitement – it’s the end of suspense and today,
good or not, the result will be known. At last we carefully disassembling the first firebox and taking out the nearest pieces to the daylight. And – Yes!!! The
excitement grows in triumph, as it’s getting clear – that was excellent firing! The words and photos are powerless – you can just try to imagine
the print of living flame in ceramics...
P.S. "The Dance" was noteworthy by the jury of International Contest
of Visual Arts "Prize Webcolor 2005", held by Kleinos Edizioni D'Arte, Italy, www.kleinos.it