At 7 am Adam started firing the kiln. He said the best time to watch would be about 4 so I got on with painting until then.
By 4 it was just turning towards twilight. In the studio Adam and his friend were feeding wood into the kiln. As darkness fell outside they watched the temperature gauge and pushed it up, just a little higher each time, feeding log after log into the ovens. Each firing would take a tonne of wood.
It seemed after a while that the thing inside the kiln really was alive, really was being fed, an elemental dragon of pure fire.
From the furnace at the bottom the flames went up and curled back around, pulled through and across the pots packed inside by the chimney, a river of fire washing over the clay. Inside earth, fire, air feeding it.
In Japan, he said, they had kiln gods on top of each kiln during firing.
In Japan sometimes they would fire for a week, kilns climbing up the side of a mountain, flames passing from chamber to chamber.
There is a balance between the two, feeding the wood, watching the heat, colour of the flames. There is a heat from the kiln that is wonderful in the cold of winter. And the light when the spy hole reveals the beast inside the kiln. Sometimes it reaches out. You can see the cones that test the temperature and behind the curve of a moonjar and perhaps the shine of the glaze?
Ailsa had made pizza dough and they had fasghioned an oven on the chimney of the kiln. In the morning they had cooked bacon, now pizzas. Slightly sooty at first, then the technique was perfected. Delicious.
Finally the temperature reached a height they were happy with. Tiime to go, to leave the fire to die, to leave the kiln and the jars to cool, but before then Adam removed some of the bricks from teh back of the chimney and showed me how the fire inside flowed. If it was hot enough flames would even come out of the chimney top.
When I left the studio and drove off past the pond with the swans it was dark. All the way home I had visions of fire and Japanese kiln gods and chambers of fire climbing high mountain sides passing through my mind's eye.
Tomorrow, at 2, the kiln will be cool enough to open. Tomorrow, at 2.