Creating quality functional and sculptural wood fired ceramics is the mission of Big Table Studios. Artists John Martelle and Liz Vercruysse are committed to the use of local materials in their work as well as mastering the venerable technology of firing clay with wood.
John's work explores contemporary approaches to traditional functional design while Liz's work is largely sculptural and highly influenced by the natural world.
Located in the rolling hills above the Missouri River Valley, this picturesque location is rich in both inspiration and natural materials.
Built in the spring of 2005 the Lynn Kiln is a 250 cubic foot anagama style wood burning kiln. Each firing is a two week process beginning with 3 days of loading, then 4 days of firing and 7 days of cooling. The actual firing portion of the kiln involves stoking wood about every 5-10 minutes around the clock. During a firing we burn about four cords of wood which is harvested from dead fall on our property and also collected from a friend’s arborist business. The kiln is fired several times each year producing roughly 300 finished pieces per firing.
Firing with wood creates a unique effect on each clay piece making every item one-of-a-kind. The pieces are fired without glaze leaving the resulting coloration on the pieces to be created during the loading and firing process. A combination of flashing from the flame and melting wood ash that collects as a dust in the early stages of the firing are kept in mind when placing each piece in the kiln. Additionally, most functional pieces are lined with natural soybean, oat straw or wood ash glazes to ensure a smooth surface that is easy to clean. We also use specially formulated clay bodies to enhance the dramatic effects of the process. The results can range from subtle to dramatic making the unloading of the kiln very exciting!