Joel Brown - Wood Fired Pottery
Long firings with wood are essential to Joel's pots. There's just no other way to achieve a piece with the spirit that comes from several days in the flame.
Ancient Japanese wood-fired kilns - anagamas and noborigamas - allow Joel to rely mostly on a natural glaze generated by melted fly ash and salts from the clay, rather than applied glazes. He builds most of his pots with coils, rather than throwing on the wheel, because the tool and finger marks catch the ash runs. He chooses clay because it flashes in the firing. He values the wadding and shell marks, and fires pieces on their sides or upside down to show off the melted ash jewels.
Joel's goals are a good shape, a good surface, and a good firing. Some of his pots trace their forms to Japanese vessels, and some to Western precedent. He accepts the kiln as his partner, with the random impacts of the flame and ash.
But there are other concerns in addition to these issues of process. In our culture, are these pots craft or art derived from craft, and are they functional or not? The long firings provide a great forum for such discussion, which of course is unresolved.
That group effort is the final attraction of wood firing . The knowledge gained from the hours spent stoking, and encouragement from the stoking crews have been critical to my development. It’s a great community and a great incentive to do it all again. Joel has academic training at Penn and Harvard in architecture. There are some who say they see the impact on his ceramics.
Here are some images of the firing process:
With proper handling, Joel's pots are both food safe and dishwasher safe. The large bowls would be fine for pieces of fruit and similar items. We advise against stovetop, oven, or microwave use. The clay is not formulated for that kind of thermal shock, and could break.