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The Big Firing (1st-7th October 2003)

We said : "You are all invited! Firing open to the public. Free entry. Bring your sun-glasses! The firing can be viewed day and night, 24 hours a day. Sale of food and drinks on site. Free camping available. Pottery sale. Events every evening (music, slide-shows, videos...) from 10 p.m.."

All that was true, but few believed it a few weeks before (and some still didn't believe it during the firing!)


To re-fire one of the last very big kilns still standing in France, sleeping for the last 50 years, while nearly all its cousins have disappeared, demolished, razed to the ground, wasn't for a bet, but a real dream. But the kiln was waiting patiently to be fired-up another day...

To get to that point, to achieve this "première", it needed someone who could dream and who also had his feet well anchored to the ground, to lead a team on site for three years' work. To restore the kiln, the undergrowth and trees which had invaded the kiln had to be removed, the insulation of the kiln, the roof of the 'lodge', its shelter, and the kiln floor had to be re-done and a chimney had to be built so that the firing would be more efficient. 15 tonnes of bricks to be laid, just for the chimney ! A herculanean task, accomplished by a handful of volunteers and a few potters from the ends of the earth.
A 100m3 kiln is really something. It means about 800 tonnes de bricks, 25 tonnes of clay ( and quite a few months ) to make the pots, 120 m2 of wood burned during the firing, which lasted more than 10 days. And also more m3 of faggots to finish the firing as old guys used to do, which we had to collect and prepare ourselves, since you can't get them now from the local wood merchant.
The superb nave of the kiln, which stayed cool throughout the heatwave of 2003, has at last re-made contact with hell-fire... 1300 degrees C in front ! The kiln radiated heat for 100 metres all around and bewitched the stokers and the spectators... Until the moment when all the entries and exits had to be sealed up to keep the heat in the monster, and the stokers could have a litte sleep after all this powerful emotion.
A month later, once the kiln had cooled down, we opened it ... slowly, with all possible precautions...

...a real Ali Baba's cave. It took your breath away, it was so beautiful !

In the press

L'Yonne Républicaine Article about the firing
The LogBook / Coll Minogue, Robert Sanderson editors. Poterie Jacques Jeanneney
by Coll Minogue
Well researched, it presents the ASPPP's project in the historical context of the Poyaudine pottery and the big firing event in October 2003.

The Film !

  A film produced by Jacques Tréfouël during the firing. Must be seen



  © 2004 Asppp