Pottery artists who have long studied their craft often prefer kilns that are heated using wood. They use the wood firing process to add a natural element to their pottery pieces. Wood firing kilns produce heat just as other kilns do. They also produce smoke and ash. The smoke and ash filter through the kiln during firing and adhere to the pottery inside. They produce textures and colors that cannot be achieved in other ways. Some artists use elements that will burn off during the firing process. This is how they use wood fired kilns to produce extraordinary textures that cannot be created in any other way.
When a wood fired kiln heats, the smoke and ash go into the kiln and change the pottery in ways that cannot be predicted by the artist. Colors fade using this process, but they do not fade evenly. The beauty of using this technique is that the artist creates an element that is uncontrolled. Often the results are a beautiful piece that has unique color variations that cannot be made with available stains. Sometimes the color will fade completely.
Artists who prefer to use pastels have often had problems with high-firing wood kilns. Pastel colors do not stand up well to the smoke and ash of these kilns. Artists have experimented and found that low-firing wood kilns will produce the color variations desired without completely fading pastels. This allows the artist to create a piece with the basic colors desired and still depend on the kiln to add variations. Because artists use different clay mixtures, pigments and glazes, each artist must figure out the best way to fire each piece they create.
Wood fired kilns offer a large variation in heat, smoke and ash production. Artists who continue to experiment will find out what works best for their pieces. Creativity continues in a wood fired kiln due to the ash and smoke components. They introduce a largely uncontrollable set of factors to creating beautiful pottery. Variations in color that cannot be achieved with other methods, stains or glazes are just part of the beauty of using this ancient method of pottery firing.