New editions of Steve Harrison books on wood firing
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New editions of Laid Back Wood Firing and Australian Woodfiring are now available

Laid Back Wood Firing Third edition 50 A4 pages, in colour, with a CD of additional material included AU$38

Steve´s comments
This little booklet was first published in 1977 in an edition of 500 copies in a green cover and reprinted soon after in 1978 in an edition of 3500 in a blue cover. This edition has been updated, revised and considerably enlarged, in fact almost triple the original publication.

Although it is my intention that it should still remain a small kiln-side handbook as a guide for the potter who has not fired a down draught fire box (Bourry) kiln before, or has little experience of it.

If you have not seen a kiln with a down draught firebox before it may seem strange to be told that the fire burns ‘up side down’. The wood being introduced at the top of the firebox, the fire is suspended half way up in the air, and the flames leaving at the bottom to pass into the kiln. This is however exactly the case when the fire box is burning at full fire and I therefore felt that a small booklet that introduced and explained the concept might have some currency. That was a quarter of a century ago and it seems I was right.

This little book (as it has now become) also attempts to shed some light on the history and development of the up side down fire box, although only briefly, as its main function is as a guide on how to understand the firebox and offer possible explanations as to what may happen to you during a firing and what you might do about it to keep control of the process.

I also offer a few kiln plans at the end to illustrate the kinds of kilns that might be fired by the down draught firebox. This section is by no means exhaustive. It is not meant to be a step by step guide on how to cut and lay firebricks either, nor does it include a brick by brick illustrated set of plans.

I have built the kilns illustrated in the drawings in most states of Australia, and they have been built by others elsewhere. If the general dimensions are followed, they will prove very easy to fire and will provide a rewarding experience in exact proportion to the effort that you put in to it.

I have built single chamber kilns utilising this firebox in sizes from 8 cu. ft. through to 300 cu. ft. The larger kilns need multiple fireboxes. I have also used it on multiple chambered kilns and anagamas.

I have retained the original kiln plan published in the first edition, for a single chamber kiln with an internal capacity of approximately 25 cubic feet with a packing space of approximately 16 cu. ft. I have also added extra kiln plans, both smaller and larger, to increase the scope of the book. These kilns have been designed in the light of all the wood burning experience my partner Janine King and I have gained in our workshop over the years with this type of firebox. One of the new kiln plans includes a small top loading throat chamber in between the firebox and the main chamber. This is an excellent way to get those heavy ash deposit effects without spending days doing it. You don’t even have to wear a head band or chop the sleeves off your T shirt to get there (although you can if you want to). This is the great heresy. Laid back wood firing, start in the morning, finish in the night, go to bed on the same day that you got up. Live a normal life, make beautiful objects and enjoy your firing. You can even do it in the city because there is so little smoke or pollution.

Australian Woodfiring Second edition 125 pages in A4 format with 85 colour images and 13 kiln plans covering the whole range of woodfired kilns AU$77.

Steve´s comments
This book is a personal interpretation of the development of stoneware wood firing technology as practised by artist–potters in Australia during the forty years from the early nineteen fifties through to the early nineteen nineties. It deals with the history, the major personalities and their influences, the technologies used and their origins, the kiln designs evolved and the firing techniques developed.

An important factor in the development of wood firing by artist potters during this period was the particular nature of the Australian native clays and timbers used by the pioneering figures, and their attempts to come to terms with the technology needed to utilise these endemic resources aesthetically. The evolution of new styles has been based on imported European and Oriental archetypes interfacing with Australian native materials and social attitudes.

Up to the present time there has not been a concerted attempt to detail the technology of stoneware wood firing. The central theme of this book is the analysis of the technologies involved in the creative wood firing process. I have been lucky enough to accumulate during my working lifetime, numerous illustrations and photographs of a variety of wood fired kilns, which, to the best of my knowledge are collected together and published here for the first time

Purchases can be made from the following:

1. Directly from Steve Harrison at

Hot & Sticky Pty Ltd
Old School Balmoral Village via Picton NSW 2571
Phone or fax 02 4889 8479

2. The Australian Journal of Ceramics or from the related website

3. Ian Currie´s website

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