Last night I worked a shift out at the Anagama Kiln. It was very fun!
Every year, the ceramics department and local potters build this giant, one-chamber wood-firing kiln and fill it with lots of pieces. The ash from the burning wood forms a natural glaze on the pieces, and the kiln is fired for 4 days. To keep the fire stoked, students and local potters volunteer to work shifts around the clock. I'd never done this before, but thought I'd give it a shot (I even made a little dragon sculpture to sneak into the kiln amidst all the large pots and vessels).
The kiln is very large, and kind of resembles the head of a dragon (appropriately shooting fire out of its mouth), which I thought was really neat. It's hard to tell because my shift was from 6 to midnight, so it's quite dark.
I thought it was going to be a lot of work, because we had to stoke the fire every few minutes. However, each stoke we alternated between feeding the front of the kiln and feeding the sides, so there was plenty of downtime (enough to sneak in a few roasted marshmallows ^_^)
My shift was still pretty early in the process, though, and by Sunday they will be stoking continuously. It's really neat then, because the whole structure is nearly aflame. Maybe I can get some pictures of it from years past, because it looks really neat.
Ultimately, it was like sitting around a giant campfire for 6 hours, keeping it aflame I got a ton of knitting done, and it was great to have a huge block of time to just sit and do nothing. The company was good too; Carissa was there on my shift, as were 3 potters from Lexington, Louisville, and Indiana. I didn't know any of them, but they were all friendly and good company.