Hangzhou Firing

In December of 2015, I returned to The College of Crafts, China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Last year Lars Voltz, Kelsie Rudolph, the Academy students, and I, built two kilns for the school.

The school is eager to become one of the premier wood-firing programs in China. The goal is not just to show them a method of firing, or a bunch of techniques, but rather to instill an adventurous spirit of firing, testing, seeing, and exploring that will pioneer new work and ways to think. With that in mind, I asked Josh Copus to join me. Josh was finishing a semester as visiting artist in Jingdezhen with Shoji Satake's West Virginia program in China.

This photo essay was written by Angel one of the undergrad students at the school who was our translator and friend.

Photo Credit: Josh Copus

Photo Credit: Josh Copus

First things first, we removed the old kiln coating and added new insulation to the train kiln.  Then we added a skim coat in preparation for firing.

Top Coat Gallery: Click to Scroll (6 images)

Then we did some wood prep for the upcoming firings.

Processing Gallery: Click to Scroll (3 images)

Loading theory and techniques crossed language barriers. So much happens in the process of loading, when we lit the kiln I felt we were working as a familiar team.

Loading Gallery: Click to Scroll (6 images)

We fired the train kiln twice and the crossdraft while the first train load was cooling, lighting the cross draft kiln off of the cooling train.

Firing Gallery: Click to Scroll (7 images)

Photos of students spraying soda into the woodfired crossdraft kiln:


Soda Gallery: Click to Scroll (2 images)

The level of excitement, the pleasure of the students, and the sheer numbers involved, all speak of great joy and success. The colors of the clays are more than encouraging. But the really good news is that a small group of students plan to fire again in a couple weeks.

Chuck Hindes unleashed his students on the facilities, and as a grad student I could not have asked for more. I made this and other recommendations to China Academy of the Arts and it feels terrific to leave seeing students excited and empowered.

Here are a few examples of student work from the firings:

Student Work Gallery: Click to Scroll (11 images)

Zhai, one of the students, created a blog about the experience of these three firings. Many of the photos used in this post (everything with a wechat logo in the lower right hand corner) are borrowed from him.