When Ben fires up his wood kiln each spring and fall, it is only after weeks of building shapes, labor intensive days of loading his work, piece by piece, into the massive structure and then lighting the burner to begin the epic blaze. Rich, deep cascades of color, stunning glassy surfaces, and rough tangible remnants of the fuel source are all hallmarks of a successful wood firing. After 60-70 hours of rising temperatures and constant stoking from a team of helpers, the kiln is sealed off to cool for a week until it reaches the more manageable temperatures of 100º-125º. Then, unloading begins.
Over the course of a lifetime, a potter will get to know his wood kiln, understanding the special spots within that produce the most dynamic results. A confluence of art, chemistry, mathematics and spatial intelligence, no wonder the artist often refers to these firings as the "Olympics of pottery".