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Wadding for Wood Firing

"Wadding" is a word you don't hear much in social groups, unless you hang out with wood fire potters. I recently realized that when I talk about "wadding" pots for a firing, most people have no idea what I'm talking about.

In case you are wondering too:

During our wood firing, the kiln is heated to temperatures around 2300-2400 degrees fahrenheit using wood. A few pieces are thrown in every few minutes around the clock for however many hours the firing lasts for (sometimes 18, sometimes 75 or longer). The length of time can depend on the size of the kiln, style of kiln, and quality of ash effects you want. These "ash effects" are wood ash in the atmosphere of the kiln landing on pots and melting to create patterns, drips, and a glazed look on pots, without having to glaze (or creating more variation in glazes that have been applied to pots).

"Wadding" is used to keep pots from sticking to the kiln shelves and other pots during the firing, while ash melts on the pots. For most of our wood firing, we make our wadding with sawdust and fire clay mixed with water to form a dough that can be shaped and glued to the bottoms of pots, raising them ​​slightly off

the shelves. After the firing, the wads can be popped off or crumble under pressure or light grinding. We usually do clean up with a Dremmel tool and sandpaper. Wadding is a messy process because your hands are constantly covered in clay and glue while you are handling the wads. The process usually takes a while and can be tedious if your wadding mixture is too soft or hard. Pots must be balanced very well on the wads so that they don't tilt allow them to fall in the firings.

One cool thing about wadding is that it does not have to go on the bottom of pots. Pots that aren't glazed on the outside can be propped up with wads on their side and even stacked on top of other pots, which can create patterns and visual interest.

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