Vitrification Workshop

Domaine de Boisbuchet, France
July 2 - 12, 2014
Wood-fired kiln at Boisbuchet

Fire is the fundamental force linking ceramics and glass. Fire turns clay into ceramic and silica (sand) into glass. The transformation is known as vitrification, whereby a solid is heated until it becomes liquid, and as it cools down it becomes a vitrified, glass-like solid. For there to be fire there must be fuel, and in Boisbuchet the fuel we use is wood. In fact Boisbuchet ‘is’ wood.

Vitrification workshop with Max Lamb, Fred Herbst and The Corning Museum of Glass will introduce wood as a third ‘fundamental’ material in the creation of ceramic and glass objects, extending its value beyond simply use as a fuel.

  • Wood as a tool – for rolling, pressing, embossing, or sketching into the wet clay.
  • Wood as a mould – for glass blowing and clay moulding.
  • Wood as an object – to compliment the glass and clay objects, for example a ceramic cup and a wooden saucer, a ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon, a glass vessel with a wooden lid, a wooden pestle and a ceramic mortar, etc.

In September, 2009, a unique type of wood-fired kiln was constructed and fired at the Domaine de Boisbuchet. This kiln uses carbon-neutral waste wood fuel to simultaneously fire ceramics and melt glass for glassblowing. The design references traditional wood-fired techniques and, at the same time, provides a contemporary sustainable approach to high temperature ceramics and glass production.

In this course, students work with instructors to utilize local clay materials and inspiration from the Domaine de Boisbuchet to create ceramic objects. Students will also design glass pieces to be created during the kiln firing. The group will experience the intersection of ceramics and glassblowing by helping to load the kiln and by working in shifts to continually stoke the kiln over the course of two days. The firing uses locally sourced wood fuel to reach temperatures in excess of 1,300 degrees C. Participants gain insight into the processes of firing ceramics and glass, while working both with ancient and cutting-edge techniques.

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