Interior of an Anagama kiln being fired

An anagama kiln being fired

Out of the Ashes: Master Works from the Minnesota Collection of Ceramics

Centre College's Minnesota ceramics collection contains some fine examples of wood-fired pottery, an ancient process which produces unpredictable and serendipitous surfaces through the interplay of ash, air, and fire. 

In this exhibit, we will learn how to read the surface of a vessel and recognize the hallmarks of this distinctive firing technique.

During firing, wood ash swirls through the air in the hot kiln. It will land on high points of the pots and melt into a glaze. Colors range from light yellow to green, brown or black. Unmelted ash will appear as gray or black. Elements such as salt or calcium from sea shells are sometimes added to the firing introducing new reactions.  Surfaces can be glossy or rough, adding nuances of texture to the forms.