THE kiln is packed at the “On the Edge of the Shelf” festival of wood-fired ceramics. The fires were lit on Thursday morning.
Now we wait for six days for the more than 1000 pieces of ceramic pieces packed carefully inside to be fired as temperatures should reach as much as 1300 degrees and the fine ash created does its magic.
The three-week festival held in association with the International Ceramics Symposium has created a community of potters working and living together on Corunna Farm at Mystery Bay just south of Narooma on the Far South Coast NSW.
The centre of attention continues to be the magnificent and stunning 6-metre long clay and brick kiln on the picturesque banks of Corunna Lake.
The “anagama” style kiln that in the beginning resembles a small Arabian mosque is now mud daubed and with a large chimney at the back that draws through the heat.
It will now be continuously fired over the next six days of the festival with each of the 20 visiting artists’ clay artworks safely ensconced.
Working at fever pitch over the last two days to pack the kiln were American potters Scott Parady and Josh Copus, as well as the others, all overseen by festival and symposium patron James Kasper of Iowa.
The kiln was a communal building effort with Australian ceramacists Kirk Winter and Gyan Daniel Wall leading the charge.
Parady said temperatures would hopefully reach up 1300 degrees centigrade inside the kiln.
“The majority of the pieces don’t have any glazes and rather it’s up to the fire and ash,” he said.
“The ash floats around like snow settling gently on the pots and with that patterns and effects are formed on the surface.”
He estimates the kiln operators, working 24 hours a day for the next week, will probably go through enough wood to heat four houses for a whole winter.
And all that ash remains trapped in the kiln and on the artwork.
The cooling off period will also be crucial with the artists slowly opening the door to allow cool air to pass through for a day or two before it is completely opened revealing the treasure inside.
Despite the kiln being packed, there is still work being created as the visiting artists holds workshops and seminars on the big studio tent.
Festival organiser and Cobargo potter Daniel Lafferty reckons the artists must have gone through as much as 2.5 tonnes of clay.
Turns out the kiln is as ephemeral as the ash it creates, as it will be dismantled at the end of the show.
The bricks were actually borrowed from a friendly Cobargo local and are headed across to border to Mallacoota once their kiln duties are done.
There will be an open market day next weekend where the public is encouraged to come and check out and possibly purchase one the creations.
The festival continues to be a real community with workshops during the day and then movies and music at night with the list of performers including Beautifully Mad, Heath Cullen and Warren Foster from the Gulaga Dancers.