Wood-firing is the oldest method of transforming clay into finished pieces. It predates gas and electric kilns by several millennia, tracing its roots back to simple clay pottery left to dry by an open fire.
As its name suggests, the technique uses wood-fueled kilns, stoked by the ceramicist to temperatures as high as 1300C. The results are organic, dramatic and beautiful.
Our selection of wood-fired ceramics comes from Nantou County, one of the centers of ceramics culture in Taiwan. Each piece is hand-crafted by individual artists. Their inspiration, skill and dedication are captured in every line, shape and color of these pieces. We think the best form for this expression is the simple teabowl.
It is difficult to capture a general history of wood-firing because it is, in effect, the history of ceramics.
The wood-fire tradition in Taiwan is easier to trace – with origins in China, spreading to Japan by way of Korea and ultimately arriving very circuitously in Taiwan only in the last century.
Modern day Taiwanese kilns are in the Anagama style, a smaller scale Japanese form of the traditional Chinese dragon kiln. The forms of the ceramics pieces themselves, while varied, tend to resonate with the influence of both traditional Chinese and Japanese aesthetics. The result is uniquely Taiwanese.
The concept is simple: ceramics are fired in kilns feud by wood. The execution is exceptionally difficult. The type of wood used, the time of firing, how the fire is built and maintained, the firing temperature are just some of the variables the ceramicist must control.
Wood-firing is one of the most difficult, rigorous and strenuous forms of ceramics craftsmanship.
The end result is a combination of the ceramicist’s skill with the random, organic interaction of flame and ash with clay and glaze. Even under ideal conditions, only about 60% of the pieces survive wood firing, and the longer the firing time, the lower the survival rate.
Yang Guo Bing
Born 1968 in Yuchih Village, Nantou County, Taiwanese ceramicist Yang Guo Bing’s career spans over two decades. During that time, he has garnered numerous awards and accolades, and have had multiple solo exhibitions in Taiwan.
Yang Guo Bing’s specialty is wood-fired ceramics. His work reflects an intimate understanding of structure and form. Each piece is organic and “built” rather than simply turned. Each unique piece exhibits the myriad variations that result from the convergence of wood fire, earth and clay, glaze and craftsmanship. The teabowls we selected from Yang Guo Bing has been fire for a minimum of four days, at a temperature of 1300C.
His studio is located in Yuchih Village, Nantou County, from the same area where we source our Organic Formosa Reds.
Liao Guo Hua
Born 1979 in Chungliao Township, Nantou County, Taiwanese ceramicist Liao Guo Hua’s ceramics career began in 1994 under the tutelage of master ceramicist Ye Xing You. In 1999, Guo Hua returned to Nantou to begin work and in 2004 opened his own ceramic studio. Two years later, he hand-built his own wood-fire kiln in Nantou.
Liao Guo Hua’s work range in character and form, and includes both glazed and unglazed pieces. The common thread linking them is the sparse aesthetic of his forms, and his careful allowance of fire and ash to transform the color and texture of those forms. The teabowls we selected from Liao Guo Hua have been fired for a minimum of three days, at a temperature of 1200C.