By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger
This outdoor Japanese multi-chambered climbing kiln is from the Joyous Spring Pottery in Monterey, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires. The American potter Michael Marcus had studied as an apprentice in Japan for four years under master potters and kiln makers and he learned how to build his wood-fired kiln which is named after the Japanese town of its origin, where unglazed ware called yaki-shime has been produced for over 1,000 years.
It is constructed out of 10,000 fire-bricks and built on several levels, with a firebox on the bottom and a flue on the top. It is 43 feet long. The potter places all his unfired clay pieces on shelves, and when the kiln is loaded, large amounts of firewood are placed. The firing of the kiln only occurs occasionally, perhaps only once per year, and it is cause for great celebration.
Marcus would use 10-12 cords of hardwood to fuel the sustained kiln fire. The firing must be watched 24 hours per day. The interior temperatures reach up to 2,500 degrees F. As Michael Marcus describes it, “It is fired for ten consecutive days and nights until it roars alive in a firestorm of belching smoke and flame. It fires its load of raw, unglazed wares, imparting a spontaneous decoration of running flame and melted ash.” The effects of the molten ash and the fire interacting with the elements of the clay create unusual patterns, colors and textures. When complete, it would take a week to cool down and a week to unload.
Marcus worked as a potter for 25 years and then closed Joyous Spring to pursue his vocation as a chef. Michael Marcus is a skilled Japanese sushi chef and he still has his gourmet restaurant BIZEN in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. See his note to Blogfinger in the comments section below.
MADAMA BUTTERFLY BY PUCCINI “One Fine Day” Act II, Part 1. Yves Abel conducting.