Annabelle’s wood firing at Guldagergaard

Our Leach Pottery apprentice visits the first recipient of the Leach Bursary apprenticeship, Callum Trudgeon, in Denmark.


In pottery there are many types of kilns which are similar to ovens that use different fuels to keep heat to a particular temperature. Imagine a giant pizza oven on a warm afternoon; you start chopping wood in the garden, ready to fire up some pizzas in the evening with good food, Rosé and laughter till late into the night. It was much like this at the Guldagergaard Centre in Denmark, but instead of pizza, we fired our pots!

The Guldagergaard Centre is where Callum Trugeon has been working for 6 months as a kiln yard assistant on his year long sabbatical. At this centre there were about 12 ceramic artists doing residencies and creating a body of work. It was absolutely mind-blowing to see the different ways of working, and of course how Callum has progressed during his time away. There was a huge variety of work at the centre, from large pieces that I could hide inside to the small, footed drinking cups pictured above. It has made me really excited for when I have my sabbatical in a few years after my apprenticeship.

Wood firing is a long process of fuelling a contained fire for a certain length of time, in relation to the size of the kiln. Callum and I fired the second largest kiln at Guldagergaard for around four full days. The ash that builds up inside flies around and attaches itself to any surface and turns to a liquid. No one has any idea how the pots will look after being fired because the ash that is blown around with the flame will travel differently in each kiln due to different shaped pots inside.


Pots tell their own story of where they were placed and which side was facing the ember bed at the front when it was fired. In the picture of my  moon jar above, on the left-hand-side the colours indicate that this is where the flame blew the ash. On the right-hand-side you can see warm toasty colours, which is where just the flame licked around it.

This is one of my favourite pieces that came out of the kiln. I put a light iron wash around the pot and after adding a linear wax resist pattern, I brushed on white porcelain slip. I love how the ash has still reacted with the iron and shown the pattern. In August, Callum will be back with the Leach Pottery studio crew and will fix our small pizza oven into a wood fired soda kiln! Thanks to Callum, we are looking forward to seeing more varied results like these very soon.

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