Single Firing….?

I’m currently reading Fran Tristram’s excellent Single Firing: the pros and cons (1996) as an introduction to an approach that would surely cut down on the energy demand from potters by combining the bisc / bisque and glaze firings as one single firing. Along with Fred Olsen’s The Kiln Book (2011) – it makes for essential reading for anyone considering sustainability and ceramics. It’s a very thorough examination of the advantages and disadvantages (weighted in favour of the advantages), with extremely helpful and detailed advice on processes and materials. She gives some interesting figures that compare the firing times for single firings and double firings, which concurred with my recent discussions with Douglas Phillips whose single firings last around 8 hours (firing to cone 9), starting in the morning after an overnight small fire has dried out the kiln by way of preparation (he lights one chamber of his Fred Olsen kiln at 6pm reaching c. 90 degrees C before sealing up the kiln for the night). He sources his timber from a local fencing company (who also supplies John Leech at Muchelney).

Firing is only one aspect of the sustainability debate concerning ceramics, along with sourcing materials and approaches to general practice, distribution etc. and I want to get my hands on Sustainable Ceramics (by Robert Harrison), Pioneer Pottery (by Michael Cardew) and Ceramic Arts and Design for a Sustainable Society (ICS 2011),


Tristram, F. (1996) Single Firing: the pros and cons. Ceramic Handbooks

Olsen, F. (2011) The Kiln Book (Fourth Edition). A&C Black

Harrison, R. (2013) Sustainable Ceramics: A practical guide. A&C Black

Cardew, M. (2002) Pioneer Pottery. A&C Black

Jeoung-Ah Kim: edited by, (2011). Ceramic Arts and Design for a Sustainable Society. ICS

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