Wood-fire & Raku Pottery

It’s so heartwarming to me that my heart warms when I think of the whole process of creating wood-fired pottery. In addition, I’ve tasked myself with doing some RAKU pottery, mainly because of the mystery of the results, experience from a recent alternate-firing class at Clayscapes Pottery, but also because a cool friend gave me some horsehair so I could do some Horsehair pottery!

Horsehair Raku Pottery Inspirations

It’s 2020 and life threw me some lemons, so I’ve been making lemonade but my mind daydreams often of making pottery.

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Raku Pottery Kiln

The first few months of this year has been focused on PREPARING to do a RAKU session – figuring out how many pieces to make to maximize the my first full raku session (2 kiln firings), then creating, burnishing, bisquing, etc. During this time doing research on the RAKU process and options – what materials to purchase (tongs, gloves, sand, turnstyle, glazes, etc), what glaze options for non-horsehair pieces, getting feathers, etc. During this time also thinking of learning enough to try doing my own RAKU with a DIY kiln or outright purchase of a RAKU kiln. Time will tell.

UPDATE! 07/01/2020

A friend gifted me with an old electric kiln. I plan to convert to a Raku kiln! Grateful and honored be I ❤

Currently I purchased a burner, a pyrometer, ceramic fiber board (to be used with the deteriorating lid, maybe), a drill bit to make a burner hole. Next is to remove the elements, fill in any soft firebrick gaps, make holes (burner, flue) and buy a couple propane tanks and fuel.

Next is to build a small wood ramp to get the kiln outside and then fashion a sandpit area where I will do the reduction using upside down metal cans!

Upside Down Cans via Artifacts By Design

Of course I’ll have the usual trash can with combustible materials on hand to give that a try too!

Ammunition Cases with Wood Shavings via Upwey Potters

Raku firing - covering the pottery pieces in sawdust and paper and a can.
Ceramics: It’s Just Dirt

Wood-fired Pottery Musing

The next phase of my daydreaming is creating pieces for this year’s woodfiring! I love doing mugs and lidded jars for this. 30 pieces is a goal, 40 pieces is a bonus, and 50 pieces would be a hoot!

  • Nice web posting regarding the wood-fire process, the basics, the job duties, the spirit of, etc: Monroe Clay Works


So while I drink lemonade from life’s lemons I allow myself to giggle inside like a little kid, at the thoughts of doing these 2 kiln firings: RAKU and Woodfire.

Right now I won’t over analyze why I have giggle-ness, I’m just allowing myself to enjoy it.

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Horsehair Raku Pottery #Appreciation visit @Oneidasharkpottery

Personal Relationship with the Matter World

I heard these words, “Personal Relationship with the Matter World” from a recent YouTube video from Linda Moulton Howe (conversation at 39 mins 14 secs) and it resonated with me right then, right there. I felt a harmonious connection with those words and our recent Wood-firing event – – because creating pottery with a wood-fired kiln process is really, as artist, instructor, and amazing soul Wes Weiss recently said, it’s a “Labor of Love“.



Here are some photos from the 2018 wood-firing May 18-May 20.




a removable or hinged cover for closing the opening, usually at the top, of a pot, jar, trunk, etc.; a movable cover.


Cups, mugs, jar, teapots, vases, boxes – oh my! Put a lid on it LOL


My master teacher Millie St. John directed us to focus on lids this semester at Clayscapes Pottery. There are myriad types of lids to play with, to create, to use – all based on one’s intent.  I’ll show pics of lids I made, and hopefully lids other students made this year. In the mean time here is a series of photos of Millie making a lid.

1.  In addition to enjoying learning about and making different types of lids I also thought I’d create pieces for the upcoming wood-firing.  One rule I forgot was that for wood-fired pieces, the lid should extend beyond the lip.  Perhaps like these (photos courtesy of The Spruce):

When it was time for wood-firing I acknowledged the error of my ways several times… a lesson learned.


2. The other thing I was interested in trying was combining my finished pieces with a crystal or stone. Here are the wood-fired finished pieces that were fashioned with a crystal or stone fully with mindfulness and sage.

hand-crafted pottery with crystals and stones

Mindfulness & Heart Intent -OneidaShark Pottery

The Mug of Life Sojourns

The adventures of the Mug of Life reached a milestone at the end of 2016. I gifted it to my brother on his 54th year, at a birthday celebration that included old and new friends, and many family members. Of course after any level of gifting there’s always the chance that a gift can go quietly to the shelf, hardly ever to be touched again; so for this event I felt the need to communicate a little background of the hand-crafted piece before any time flowed elsewhere.


Here is a more complete storyline of the Mug of Life:

Mother Earth created clay through eons. At some point nearer this date a portion of the clay came through the hands of a gatherer, a processor, a seller and a buyer.

In the year 2016 the clay was picked up by my hands and formed on a Potter’s Wheel to become a mug.

The mug was created by me, as with all of my pieces, with the senses of Love. Even if simply the word LOVE was a thought in it’s creation, or if several forms of Love’s facets were expressed or experienced through to it’s recent milestone, the resonation of LOVE was echoed through its journeys.

An opportunity to revel in life’s dynamics came early in the mug’s existence when while trimming the clay I accidentally spun the Potter’s Wheel too quickly. This resulted in an altered mug. I looked upon the altered mug with a fresh perspective and relished the chance to ‘just go with it’. Soon enough a handle with a button thumb-rest was fashioned to the mug and then rested. It rested right through to the time of bisquing.

I knew the mug was created with the chance of being fired in a wood kiln. Anything fired in a wood kiln can produce some very cool results – and the mystery of the interplay of the elements is a huge draw. While the elements are known: the clay, the wood, the fire, the glaze if any, the wadding, the temperature, the duration, the ash, and the cooling – what is a big variable is the location of the piece in the kiln in relation to those elements.  It’s all so very very cool to see how the pieces come out.



So before this Mug of Life came out of the wood-fired kiln, I knew there was a chance that the mug would have characteristics that may or may not be pleasing to the eye.


But that was okay. That’s life. Accepting what may or may not happen, is probably one of the largest life lessons one can hope to learn. It is what it is.

The mug came home with me. As part of my typical process, I took the mug to my 9 to 5 to try it out. I test the handle comfortability, the weight, the balance, the handling, the drinkability of coffee. I tried out the mug over several weeks and learned more about it than I’ve would have hoped or expected.  While the outside of the mug didn’t have smooth lines, curves or symmetry, it definitely had character in all of its senses.

When my brother’s birthday arrived I knew this mug was going to be his. Perhaps it was created to be his, from the get-go. That’s kinda cool to think about.

As I told my brother at his birthday party, while the mug may have dings, bumps, and “character”, its what he puts inside that counts.

That cute little mug, the Mug of Life, continues to teach me that even though life has ups and downs, ins and outs, and provides us with character through it all, ultimately its what we put inside (inside our heart, mind, body and soul) that counts – for our own soul growth and development.  So thank you little mug. Thank you for sharing your love and life, with my brother.  Amen.


The “Mug of Life” Birthday Present to my Brother, December 2016

Simply Beautiful

My first wood-firing pottery experience was and still is, simply beautiful on many levels.

First was the clay, the creation of pottery pieces that included mugs, a pitcher and a couple pots/vases. This process of course was fun, daunting, and so cool.

Then came the prepping of the pieces, which included using pig-iron glaze on a few pieces upon the suggestion of a veteran wood-fire potter. The experience, info, and creative ideas shared were like icing on a cake.Then came the packing of the pieces for transport to the wood fire kiln.  I savored every moment.

Next was the actual wood firing experience….  let’s just say that my mind was blown by the amount of hard work and dedication that was shared among the potters and volunteers, as well as by the generosity by the land owner allowing a huge wood fire kiln to be built on his land. I honor all those who had a hand in making dreams come true.

Now, as I gaze upon some of my finished pieces I feel all this and more, because the new dimension of seeing and holding the pieces have every bit of that love, respect, and joy.

Thank you.


Three out of approximately 20 wood-fired pieces created.

Wood Firing Clay Pottery In-Process

It was a beautiful day in central New York on Saturday, May 28, 2016.

By beautiful, I mean the clouds were puffy white against a sky of deep blues, and although the breeze was slight, the temperatures were in the low 90’s and the sun was beating us down like a..   well, let me just say it was HOT! We’re not exactly used to 90 degree weather here in CNY, especially so early in the season – but like most folks I talked with I wasn’t complaining.


We arrived to the destination of the first wood firing of the year (there will be 2 more sessions this year)! The area seemed most welcoming with a good deal of positive loving energy. And upon quick glance, the care and work associated with building a wood-firing spot were definitely evident.

We proceeded down the path to the hot spot – literally, where high stacks of hard and soft wood  sat patiently waiting for their turn to help realize the dreams and hopes of those who created more than 400 earthly creations.


Sean was the only volunteer present at the time. He welcomed us warmly (excuse the wood-firing pun), sharing the history, his insights, teaching us about the wood-firing process and the furnace. We are definitely appreciative of his wealth of knowledge and generosity!


Sean shared how the surfaces of the pottery pieces could be affected by their placement and direction facing the fire.



The addition of soda ash circulates in the furnace to help produce a glazed effect on as many surface locations as possible.

We stayed only a short time but learned a lot!

I am truly in awe and in appreciation for all the people that worked together to make the wood firing a reality.

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