Materials and Mechanics of Woodfire
Ashwini Bhat and Bruce Dehnert
2 week course || CER 647 001 || 3 credit hours || Lab Fee: $150
This course is centered around the wood kiln, from its mechanics to the material and conceptual considerations posed through its use. Students will have the opportunity to explore and produce a range of ceramic works, while learning about the relationships that ceramic forms can have to culture, history, personal expression, and social change. Students will be introduced to both historical and contemporary uses of wood-fired ceramics. Some of the reading materials in this course will be “The Kiln Book” by Frederick Olsen; “Theory of Craft” by Howard Risatti, and Building With Fire by Ray Meeker. Documentary film screenings include “Agni Jata” on Ray Meeker’s fired house project; “Traces” exploring theoretical issues regarding Western/Eastern approaches to the production of ceramics and “There Is No Customarily” on the Peters Valley Anagama. Presentations on firing wood kilns in the USA, China, Japan and India will be included. After the first week of making, the wood kiln will be loaded and fired as a team. The wood kiln offers a close up experience to the mechanics of kiln firing, in particular, how fuel and oxygen affect the quality and efficiency of the flame and in turn add to the final aesthetics of the surface. Over the course of thirty hours, the clay, glaze and wood ash will begin to melt in the high heat and create beautiful surface effects. Work will be finished by grinding, sanding and polishing.
Ashwini Bhat has an M.A in literature and a background in classical Indian dance for seventeen years. She studied ceramics with Ray Meeker at Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry, India. Her work has been featured internationally in many galleries and exhibitions including, Lacoste Kean Gallery, Companion Gallery, In Tandem Gallery, Cohen Gallery at Brown University, American Jazz Museum, NCECA (2019; 2018; 2016; 2015 and 2013), Newport Art Museum; India Art Fair, Indian Ceramic Trienale; Indian Museum at FLICAM; and Woodfire Tasmania. Her work has been published in Riot Material, Ceramic Art and Perception, Ceramic Ireland, New Ceramics, Caliban, Crafts Arts International, The Studio Potter , and Logbook. She lives and works in Petaluma, CA.
Bruce Dehnert received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana and his MFA in Ceramics from Alfred University. He has taught at Hunter College, Parsons School of Art and Design, The School of Art [New Zealand], the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Dehnert is the recipient of a New Jersey Artist Fellowship Award, and other awards including three time Fletcher Challenge International Ceramics Award winner, the Settlor Prize in Sculpture, and a Carnegie Premier Award for Works on Paper. He was also a finalist in the Robert Wood Johnson International Figurative Competition. His work is held in a number of museums and collections including The Crocker Museum, the Yixing Museum of Ceramic Art , The New Dowse Museum, The Liling Museum of Ceramic Art, The New Museum, and The White House. Dehnert remains active as a writer having had articles published in numerous journals including, Studio Potter, Ceramics Monthly, and Ceramics: Art and Perception. He has written a number of forewords for exhibition catalogs and books, including Woodfired Pottery: Susan Beecher. His bestselling book, Simon Leach’s Pottery Handbook, was recently published by Abrams Publishing of New York City. He is currently writing a biography on noted Japanese artist, Takeshi Yasuda. In 2016, Bruce was named a Fellow to the International Academy of Ceramics. Currently he is Head of Ceramics at Peters Valley School for Crafts in Layton, New Jersey.