Connect with us on Facebook.

MORE ODDITIES

Buy The Books

 

map

The anagama is big, with an interior capacity of about 1,000 cubic feet.

Some of the bricks used in the 55 foot by 14 foot kiln came from the old Malleable Forge building in Albion.

Ken Shenstone is the artist behind the kiln and the gallery. He, and David Habicht, built the anagama along with the other three kilns on the property.

The Albion Anagama is detailed in the book, "Best Kept Secrets".

Best Kept Secrets

 

podcast

Michigan Back Roads
About Up North
Contact Ron

Albion Anagama

When you see the Anagama for the first time you may be completely underwhelmed. From the outside it is unremarkable, just a long narrow shed with a curved roof. In fact, the 4,000 square foot ceramics gallery, a few steps away, seems way more impressive. First impressions can be misleading. The long and the short of it is, the Albion Anagama is the largest single-chamber wood-fired kiln in the United States. The term anagama is a Japanese term meaning “cave kiln”.

 

Albion Anagama

The anagama consumes a lot of wood. When the kiln is running at its hottest, it can burn as much as a face cord per half hour. That is a stack of firewood that would be 4 feet high and 8 feet long. With all this capacity, one might wonder what in the world one would use it for. Why would you need a kiln that is more than 50 feet long.

Every autumn potters and clay sculptors gather in Albion for the firing. The artists bring objects they have been preparing all year. A massive quantity of wood has been gathered and the anagama has been readied. For the next 10 days the kiln will run without interruption. More than 2,000 pieces of pottery will be fired during the 240 hour cycle. The kiln requires attention 24 hours per day during the 10 day event. Artists, crafters and volunteers handle the work. The wood has been donated by Albion resident Rusty Hull, who receives artwork in return. Some artists will bring meals. Others will split wood or tend the fire. Their reward is a small space in the kiln where their clay creations will be transformed into gorgeous pottery. Night and day the work, some say party, goes on without a break. Plain earthenware clay is put in. Beautiful inspired works of pottery come out.