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                     Following mediæval potters' wisdom, I design and build simple wood-fired kilns called 'anagama'.


'MOBY' - Anagama in the Woods   near Tring, Hertfordshire (2014)

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In summer 2013, I slowly started my latest kiln construction.  My design concept of anagama 'Moby' was pretty simple......
...... "A soft candle flame wrapped up in hard bricks." ......
Although it sounded simple enough, but in practice, 'Nothing was that easy'.  Because I also wanted my anagama located in the woodlands on a steep slope.   But the site available for my kiln was on a gentle incline in the woods.
And a first few years, I had to clear the mess in the woods, fell some unhealthy and undergrown trees and make split-firewood for wood-firing.  I prefer working outdoors and using old hand-tools (saws and axes) suit me well with my pace.   I still have a good noise-maker (American log-splitter) but no traffic noise and phone calls.
Working here in my secret woods, I mostly enjoy listening to occasional calls from the wild animals in the forest.

Wood-firing can be done with a simple 'anagama' but it is rather temperamental.
Success only comes after many long days of tenacious work coupled with a good understanding of surrounding nature.


   Between 1987 and 1997, I have visited various potteries and observed many different firings in Japan.  I once came across a rather simple wood-firing.  The primitive looking kiln was called 'anagama'.   'Anagama' is a Japanese word used to designate a cave kiln, a type of kiln that has its origins in ancient times.  I was captivated by this simple wood- firing and the image has remained in my heart.  After a while, I settled in London but found that I was missing the flames, smoke and smell of burning wood so much that I decided to build my own 'anagama' for myself.
    My kiln design is based on various mediæval kilns in Japan, and when I met Furutani Michio (1946 - 2000) in Shigaraki, an outstanding potter and a master kiln-builder, he kindly passed his secret techniques of 'anagama' building and wood-firing onto me.
    My life project is to build 'anagama' with mediæval features.  I have designed and built many wood-fired kilns since my first anagama "Moby Dick", including 8 'anagama' and dozens of 'raku' kilns.


'MOBY DICK'  First Anagama    Aldbury, Hertfordshire (1996 - 2011)

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  It's measured 30 ft long and 10 ft at its widest. I fired it usually for 8 - 10 days.  It has no fire-box, no ash-pit, no proper bag-wall, no dampers, no side-stoking holes and not even spy-holes to enjoy peeking.


'Baby Moby'  Mini Anagama    Chalfont, Buckinghamshire (2001)

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The mini 'anagama' was built for the Wood Festival at Chiltern Open Air Museum. Only second-hand house bricks were available and it was built in 18 hours without using a conventional former. The mini 'anagama' was then fired for three days throughout the show.


'Orca' Thai Kiln    Dinton, Buckinghamshire (Spring, 2006)

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The Kiln design was based on old cross-draft kilns from Sawankhalok & Sukhothai, Thailand.


'Moby Junior'  Medium Size Anagama    Cheddington, Buckinghamshire (Summer, 2006)

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This 'anagama' was built in a beautiful private garden in summer. Pots were made and fired for my solo exhibition which was held at the 'Long Room Gallery' (Tring) in Autumn 2006.


'MOBY'    Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire (2007)

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This Anagama 'Moby' had more mediæval features.  It had no fire-box, no ash-pit, no bag-wall, no dampers and no side-stoking holes.  Moreover the kiln is half-buried in the hillside.  I no longer equipped with pyrometers and cones for my firings.


Raku Kilns    built on various locations

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An instant 'raku' kiln can be built very quickly and should work fine.  I once built one in half an hour and fired it straight away.  Yet, I prefer designing wood-fired 'raku' that can be fired slowly and many times.  Maybe it's because I enjoy modifying and improving them after each firing.


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