We graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA in 1996. After a 2 year apprenticeship in North Carolina, we moved back to the Midwest, near New Albin, IA. We rented an old farm, set up our first shop and built a kiln in 1999. After living there for 4 years, we moved down the road a mile and built a new house, shop and another kiln, which is where we've lived and worked since.
The Wood-fired Kids Collection is a part of Allamakee Wood-Fired Pottery, owned by husband and wife team Nate and Hallie Evans.
After a 2 day preheat to dry out the pots, slabs are stoked every 10 minutes or so to gradually build up the heat in the early stages of the firing. Over 2 days, the fire builds to a raging inferno that consumes 5-6 slabs every 4-5 minutes as temps climb to 2300 and higher.
On day 4 the front of the kiln is held at top temperature, while smaller pieces of wood are fed into side stoking holes that run the lenght of the kiln, gradually drawing heat into the back of the chamber of the kiln.
As embers build up and burn away, alkalies in the flame weave their way between the pots on their journey from the firebox to the chimney. Pots are marked by the fire in a way unattainable with any other firing method. This is what makes the labor intensive wood firing worth overy ounce of effort.
After a 2-3 day cool down the unloading begins! It takes another 2 days to unload the 700 pots, and clean each one to get them all ready to sell. We'll pack them up for the next show, or put them on display in our showroom once they're cleaned, washed and priced.
Noah helps us brick up the door of the kiln after the loading is finished.
Strategically placed conepacks let us monitor the temperature throughout the kiln during the firing.
Cleaning the pots and enjoying the sun after a February firing.
Hallie and Nate side stoking at the end of the firing.
It takes 2 days to load the kiln; all pots are carefully placed on small balls of clay, sand and alumina called wads, to ensure that they don't fuse to each other or the kiln shelves. The pots are placed in the kiln to take advantage of flame movement through the kiln and ash deposits on the surfaces of the pots.
We fire our large kiln 5 times a year. Each firing holds about 600-700 pots, ranging from large, decorative floor pots to dinnerware. We make the pots over a couple months, during which time we also do a variety of more labor intensive work, including cuttin, moving and splitting 2-3 cords of wood and get the kiln ready to load.
The cycle starts with making pots. We need to make 600-700 pots in about 2 months to have enough to fill the kiln.
Hallie handling mugs, stamping stars.
Noah at 2 on his own kick wheel.
Finn adding texture to a pot.
Nate and Finn carefully place a bowl in the kiln.