The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two-chamber noborigama, built in 2023 during a workshop with pottery artist and kiln builder Ted Neal. The first chamber is fired solely with wood, and in the second chamber salt is introduced. The kiln reaches cone 10 in approximately 26 hours. Community firing participants can reserve individual shares in the firing. There are 9 shares of space within the kiln, with each share measuring 12″ x 24″ x 30″. All work must be bisque fired. Please contact Matt Wren, Ceramic Studio Supervisor, with questions regarding clay bodies, slips, and glazes suitable for the noborigama and to receive notifications about future kiln firings.
LIMIT: 9 participants/1 share per person/12″ x 24″ x 30″
LEVEL: Intermediate/Advanced Adults
Participants must be familiar with cone 10 glazes and able to independently make responsible glaze choices for the wood kiln.
INSTRUCTOR: Rich Holck will oversee and guide you through the hands-on process of loading, firing, unloading, cleaning, and maintaining a wood kiln. Learn how to build the fire and operate the kiln at each stage, read the atmosphere of the kiln to time your stokes, and how to place wood across the width of the firebox to maintain even heat. Gain understanding of how kiln oxygen levels may fluctuate and ways of controlling oxygen levels by adjusting dampers and air openings. Consider factors like the quantity of wood per stoke, stoking frequency, and the size and type of wood to use. When introducing salt into the chamber, discuss its effects on the pottery, kiln, and kiln furniture. During unloading, observe the results of your collective efforts on the finished works, and how the process details come together to shape the end result.
2024 FIRING DATES
LOCATION: Kiln Pavilion at Chester Springs Studio, 1668 Art School Rd, Chester Springs, PA 19425
(Take stairs on right of Studio to get to Kiln Pavilion)
TUITION: $170 Members, $200 Non-members
Each share is 12 x 24 x 30 inches. Pottery must be bisque fired with high fire clay. The maximum allotment is 1 share per person. The kiln accommodates about 9 shares. You must be present at the loading, register for two 3-hour firing shifts, and assist with unloading and cleanup after the firing before leaving with your finished work. A kiln share and shifts can be split between two people. Please notify Matt if this is the case, so we know who to expect.
It is recommended that participants bring leather gloves for stoking the kiln, dust mask, work gloves, and protective eyewear for the unloading. Studio glazes, wadding, and firewood are provided.
GLAZING: Friday 9:30am – 9:30pm
Independent glazing and wadding. Studio classroom access is limited from 9:30am-4pm while classes are in session. Please be respectful of students’ class time by limiting use of studio sink (fill a bucket of water and bring a sponge for outside cleanup) and ensure that glaze buckets are accessible to all. Glaze buckets are kept outside, so set up an outdoor table for glazing and wadding. There are multiple tents and a kiln pavilion to work under in the event of rain.
KILN LOADING: Saturday 9:30am – 2pm
Please be considerate of others to make sure everyone gets their fair share of pottery in the kiln. Listen to the person loading (move away from the kiln for conversations or calls) and work together towards your shared goal of a successful firing.
First, prepare the wadding by forming it into small, pea-size balls. Load both chambers simultaneously, with one person in each chamber loading, one person handing pottery per each loader, and others finding pots or posts of the correct height and adding wadding as necessary. Wood can be brought in from the field under cover for future firings. The kiln may be lit around 2 pm. Please sign up and discuss firing shifts.
When stacking the door bricks never force or jam bricks into an opening. It is OKAY to have wiggle room. We have three steel bars to hold the door in place. Forcing fiber or thin pieces of brick into crevices is only going to push these openings further apart as the material heats and expands and can distort the shape of the kiln over time.
If you feel the need to cover gaps, use “door mud” or bag reclaim clay, which can be cut with sand or sawdust to reduce its shrinkage. We are stacking the bricks in such a way that alternating patterns of full and half bricks cover the seams. Tiny crevices will not affect the overall outcome/atmosphere within the chamber.
KILN FIRING: 2pm Saturday – 4 pm Sunday
Two 3-hour firing shifts per person/share: Move driest wood from the shed to the kiln by wheelbarrow so you are always ready to stoke the kiln (check with Wood Kiln Instructor about what pile of wood to pick from). Stoke according to instructions, notes, or temperature and atmospheric goals at any given time until the firing is complete. All firing decisions are ultimately up to the Wood Kiln Instructor.
KILN UNLOADING: Thursday 3 – 6pm
It is everyone’s responsibility to check in with the Wood Kiln Instructor during unloading to ensure all tasks are completed prior to leaving with your fired pottery. The kiln site and surroundings must be picked up and organized for the next firing. Kiln door bricks are taken down in order and stacked to the left of each opening. Bricks and kiln shelves must be handled with care! (Please check with Wood Kiln Instructor if you are unsure.) Kiln shelves are ground/scraped flat, painted with wash if needed, and leaned against the kiln on their edges or stored in a safe, dry location. Posts are scraped/ground, dipped in wash if needed, and put away. Kiln chambers must be vacuumed thoroughly. Avoid allowing fired wadding or debris to fall between floor bricks, which can push them out of alignment, creating larger gaps. Do not stack door bricks too tightly for this same reason. Scrape out and vacuum firebox ashes, sweep the kiln pad until clean of debris, store tools and equipment, and empty shop-vac into the trash. Tidy up around the woodpile if needed and gather kindling for the next firing.
Those interested in renting the full kiln must have experience in loading and firing wood kilns. At least one individual within the group needs to be able to load the kiln with confidence. You must be able to organize your group and manage the entire process, from start to finish, so that the expectations outlined in the community firing guidelines are met. Active involvement and focus from your group are crucial for successful outcomes. We encourage group members to be curious, engaged, and committed to enhancing their understanding and skills while taking ownership of the process.
We greatly appreciate groups that plan and think ahead to keep the firing on schedule, contribute to the greater good by moving extra wood for future firings, and go the extra mile to ensure the kiln, equipment, and site are neat and tidy. Wood Kiln Instructor, Rich Holck, will be present to provide guidance, assistance, and instruction as needed.
All Full Kiln Rentals for 2024 have been booked.
If you are interested in booking the full kiln in 2025, or for more information contact:
After confirming and reserving your kiln dates with Matt Wren you can pay online (using the form at the bottom of this page), by check, or in cash. Make checks payable to: Historic Yellow Springs, Inc. Payment for the firing must be made in full prior to leaving the kiln site on your unloading day.