Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Smoke-free, wood-burning potters’ kilns under construction in Oaxaca

Potters in Oaxaca are addressing air quality problems by building smoke-free, wood-burning kilns in which to fire their ceramic artwork.

The kilns will not only benefit the health of both people and the environment, they will also provide artisans with new knowledge and techniques with which they can renew and strengthen their ceramics traditions.

The fourth such kiln was recently installed in the town of Santo Domingo Tonaltepec, in the Mixteca Alta region, where potters are known for their “chorreado” (drip-stained) style of glaze made with tannins from oak tree bark.

The position and size of the firing chamber, as well as its tall chimney, cause it to draw extremely well, providing efficient combustion and optimal ash distribution.

The Alfredo Harp Helú Oaxaca Foundation (FAHHO), in coordination with its folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular, will monitor the work of the artisans who use the new kilns. The foundation plans to provide artisans with the resources to build the kilns in order to expand the technology statewide.

One of the National Ceramics School's kilns, in Metepec, México state.
One of the National Ceramics School’s kilns, in Metepec, México state.

The project was begun by the National Ceramics School (ENC), which in 2017 contacted Japanese master potter Masakazu Kusakabe. In February of that year, he was invited to conduct a smoke-free kiln workshop in Tapalpa, Jalisco.

The workshop saw the construction of the first kiln of this type in Latin America, and since then one of Kusakabe’s students, Yusuke Suzuki, has worked to spread knowledge of the innovation across Mexico.

The ENC was founded in 2016 thanks to interest by the Tajín seasoning company, which sought to create a space for the conservation, innovation, research and instruction of ceramics in Mexico.

This is the third year of the ENC’s smoke-free kilns project. It has also built the kilns in Guanajuato, Chiapas, Jalisco, Chihuahua, Michoacán and México state.

Source: Ciudadanía Express (sp)

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