Sandra Bowkett

Sandra Bowkett — Wood Fired Stoneware Serving | Baking Bowl


Australian ceramicist Sandra Bowkett has been working with clay for over 30 years. Based in Tallarook in Central Victoria, her work is governed by the daily interaction between clay and the body. Her interest in making functional pieces has kept her focused on tableware where she works between finely handmade porcelain vessels and wood fired, wheel thrown tableware.

Her wood firing series presented at Craft, involves a complex firing process where the kiln is fueled by firewood, in contact to the electric or gas kilns which are more commonly used. A continuous supply of fuel is needed for the firing as the wood thrown into the hot kiln is consumed rapidly. Stoking of the wood in the kiln occurs around the clock, changing the way the pots looking inside the kiln, the temperatures reached and sustained, the amount of ash applied etc.

Burning wood produces heat of up to 1400°C and it also produces fly ash and volatile salts. Wood ash settles on the pieces during the firing, and the complex interaction between flame, ash, and the minerals of the clay body forms a natural ash glaze. The glaze may show great variation in colour, texture, and thickness, ranging from smooth and glossy to rough and sharp. The placement of pieces within the kiln distinctly affects the pottery's appearance, as pieces closer to the firebox may receive heavy coats of ash, or even be immersed in embers, while others deeper in the kiln may only be softly touched by ash effects. Other factors that depend on the location include temperature and oxidation/reduction. Besides location in the kiln (as with other fuel-fired updraft kilns) the way pieces are placed near each other affects the flame path and thus the glaze. The potter must imagine the flame path as it rushes through the kiln, and use this sense to paint the pieces with fire.

The length of the firing depends on the volume of the kiln and may take anywhere from 48 hours to 12 or more days. The kiln generally takes the same amount of time to cool down. Records of historic firings in large Asian kilns shared by several village potters describe several weeks of steady stoking per firing.


Materials: wood fired stoneware

Dimensions: diameter 20cm, height 10cm

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