Anagama Firing

It's not some weird made up word...
It's a type of kiln the ceramics department at UNC Asheville has.
But it isn't a normal everyday kiln, such as the electric ones, where you just switch it on.
The anagama is a big deal.

It only is used a few times a year because it requires so much work.
Here is a shot of what it looks like from the front.

The anagama sits outside in the yard area next to ceramics due to its massive size of about 14 feet,  in addition to the fact that it does not run off of electricity, but rather a fire produced by burning wood.

But the wood does not just burn for a day...
It burns for about five days.

Because it is outside, large, needs a fire going constantly, and goes on for a few days - people need to help with it.

That's what the art students get to do.
And that is exactly what my friend and I had to do when we signed up for a shift time...
Our options ranged from Wednesday night to Sunday evening, either 12am-4am, 4am-8am, 8am-12pm, and so on - a continuous clock.
Wednesday would be just a limited fire while Sunday would have massive flames in order to encompass the entire anagama to fire the pieces in the back.
This meant that Wednesday until Friday night shifts would get to maintain a small fire... less work.

So my friend and I signed up for Thursday morning... 4am-8am.

To say I got little sleep Wednesday night is an understatement.
I would wake up in intervals - fearing that I would miss my shift.

But I didn't and neither did my friend, as we met outside at 3:45am to trek across campus.

The job was not bad at all.
We sat on the couch outside, surrounded by a tarp, listening to Pandora radio while singing since no one else was awake, and maintaining the fire which resembled a campfire.

It was fun and exciting for a few hours, then as the sun began to peek out of the trees... exhaustion started to hit and we began to count down the time left.

I wish I could say I crashed when I got back to my room... but I was somehow still on an adrenaline rush and went to the rest of my classes like a normal day - but was in bed by 8pm.

The life of an art student.

During the whole experience I was sending my mom (who is an art teacher) picture updates, since I could see my piece inside the kiln.

It was an experience for the books, and I highly suggest anyone who wants something different to try it - you do not need to be an art student to volunteer.
Extra hands are always appreciated in the art department.

Times like these is when I am so glad to be going to UNC Asheville, where I can get as much out of my art program as possible.


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