The intricate art of kiln loading

Stacking a wood kiln is a bit like playing chess, I’m constantly thinking many moves ahead – or in the case of the kiln – shelves ahead. Remembering where the cool or dry spots are, where the zones of heavier reduction are lurking and which pots should benefit from the extra heat in the bottom of the kiln.
The different clays and slips also need to be factored in, which all leads to a very concentrated few hours during loading as crucial decisions are being made. I try and either ramp stack a shelf, or create a flame path that touches as many pieces as possible as it moves along the shelf.
The throat and bag wall zones are special and those pieces are the first selected, then the tall pieces are set aside for the top 2 shelves and the rest are sorted evenly to each side of the kiln.
The actual process of wading and prop setting are where it’s easy to get careless and accidentally drop a crumb into bowl and not notice. Shell wadding and laying pieces at odd angles to fit them in is also a challenge.
By the time of bricked up the wicket I’m more exhausted than during the firing.

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