Monthly Archives: May 2010

Firing Night

Oh! What a night! What a turn out!

The evening started quietly after the afternoon downpour. Among the early arrivals were a group of sketchers (Tia’s students from Temasek Poly) and local photographers, all eager to capture the night’s events. Film-maker, Royston Tan was also around with his crew shooting an HD video.

As dusk fell, people from all corners of Singapore, from all walks of life started to stream in – families with kids, parents and grandparents, young and old came to join us for an evening by the kiln fire. Many came with coolers packed with drinks and food to BBQ and feast. The spirit of gotong royong was evident when you see everyone helping with the firing, sharing food and conversations, and strangers became friends.

The news of the firing spread beyond our shores and there was a group of shutterbugs who came all the way from Malaysia.

Some of the visitors couldn’t resist and joined in to stoke the fire which was at a very toasty 800 degrees Celsius.

One of the highlights of the evening was Steven and his friends on their djembes. They certainly brought a touch of African rhythm and beat to Pottery Jungle, and some of our guests had an impromtptu drum lesson.

There was so much happening that I couldn’t capture it all. So here are some links of friends who had blogged, sketched, and shot the event. If you have captured your impressions of the firing and have posted them, please leave a comment below and share your URL.

We hope that everyone enjoyed the evening as much as we did. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our helpers, friends, and friends of friends who joined us on Veask Day evening and made it a memorable wood-firing!

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Firing on Friday Morning

The day began early for everyone as we had to be at dragon kiln by 7am. When we arrived, an American TV crew was busy setting up and briefing Mr & Mrs Tan before the show’s celebrity arrived. We can’t disclose the celebrity and the program until it is telecast in the US in the later part of the year. Oh well! But the potters had a more important task at hand to see to – the Firing.

Firing began at 9am with prayers and offerings of fruits, wine, and roasted meat to the kiln God.

Here are our supertrooper helpers for the first shift: Ling Mei and young Bing Han:

Cheng Huang and Mui Luang had their Chinese fans handy to keep cool in the heat:

Hee Lai showed his wood-tossing skills at the firebox:

Stoke-a-wish crane for good luck!

Temperature at 12pm was about 200 degrees Celsius! A great start!

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Countdown to Firing

A peek inside the packed kiln!

Packing is almost done. The fourth chamber is filled with Steven’s interesting tall sculpture pieces. One more shelf to go before the kiln is sealed and preheated. Five chambers filled with our clay pieces ready for the firing on Friday!

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Getting Ready for the Firing

Preparations for the firing next week are in progress. The potters have been busy making last minute touches to their pieces and glazing them. Here are some shots of the potters in action!

Each potter employs his/her own unique glazing technique. Ling Mei sprays glaze on her bowl and uses a pump to form trail patterns on her teapots…

Tuan Yong prefers to pour and dip this pieces…

Steven shows how to create zen-like patterns with a piece of gauze drenched with iron oxide before dipping the piece into the glaze…

Linda touches up her hand-build piece which she intends to use for her ikebana creations…

Hua Hoong shows Mrs Tan and Linda how to fold an origami crane for our stoke-a-wish…

The kiln shelves are up in the first chamber waiting for our pieces. Soon the kiln will be filled with pieces big and small, tall and short, all waiting to be fired to reveal the artists’ handiwork.

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Dragon Kiln Firing 2010

It’s time to awaken the dragon again! Thow Kwang Clay Artists invite our friends, potters, artists…everyone who is interested to our annual wood-firing! The wood-firing will be carried out continuously for the duration of about 28 hours during the Vesak weekend at the end of May.

Here’s the tentative wood-firing schedule. The schedule is subjected to changes as much depends on how well the fire is maintained and able to reach the desired temperature. The main event begins on Friday, 28th May.

26th & 27th May (Wed & Thurs):

Preheating during the day

28th May (Fri):

9:00am-4:00pm – Firing begins. 80 deg Celsius per hour. To reach 560 deg Celsius by 4:00pm

4:00pm-10:00pm – Firing. 100 deg Celsius per hour. To reach 1,160 deg Celsius by 10:00pm

10:00pm-12:00mn – Soaking at 1160 deg Celsius

29th May (Sat):

12:00mn-1:00am – Firing at stoke holes 1 & 2. Temperature: 1,200 deg Celsius

1:00am-4:00am – Soaking at stoke holes 1 & 2. Throw salt into the stoke holes. Stop soaking of stoke hole 1 at 4:00am

4:00am-6:00am – Firing at stoke holes 3 & 4. Temperature: 1,200 deg Celsius. Stop soaking of stoke hole 2 at 5:00am

6:00am-8:00am – Soaking at stoke holes 3 & 4. Throw salt. Stop soaking of stoke hole 3 at 8:00am

8:00am-10:00am – Firing at stoke holes 5 & 6. Temperature: 1,200 deg Celsius. Stop soaking of stoke hole 4 at 9:00am

10:00am-12:00pm – Soaking at stoke holes 5 & 6. Throw salt.


  • BYO food for a BBQ on Friday night. Dine by the firebox while you watch the crackling flames of the dragon kiln.
  • Fire-fly watching on Friday night (if the fire-flies decide to join us :-)).
  • Firing to the rhythm and beat of African drums. Some of our friends will be entertaining us on their Djembes. So bring along your own instruments and add music to the night.
  • Stoke-a-wish: Try your hand at origami, make a wish, and toss the paper figurines into the firebox.
  • 2 Guided Tours for those who are interested to know more about the history of the kiln and the tradition of wood firing.

30th May-4th June

Cooling period

5th-6th June (Sat & Sun)

Unpacking of the kiln and documenting the results


Thow Kwang Industry Pte Ltd, 85 Lorong Tawas (off Jalan Bahar)

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Potters at Work

After a long hiatus, the potters at Thow Kwang have been busy throwing, coiling and hand-building pieces for the upcoming wood firing. Here are some of them in action:

Tia and her mosaic piece made from multi-coloured clays.

Steven’s new series inspired by nature’s seeds and seed pods. He started with a coiled form and developed it iteratively.

Here’s a peek at the spread of the bisque pieces that we will be glazing in the next week followed by the laborious packing into the dragon kiln. There is still much to be done before the firing at the end of the month. As always, prior to a firing, we feel an equal proportion of excitement and apprehension.

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A Celebrity Among Us

Hot off the Press: Urban Sketchers USA featured our potter, Tia Boon Sim in their blog. You can read the interview here. At the workshop, when Tia is not at the potter’s wheel or hand-building, she will be busy sketching the surroundings and the people around. We are always impressed by her lively and fluid renderings of the place. And she does this at the speed of light! You can see  Tia’s sketches of the dragon kiln here.

We are all very proud of Tia. Have a great time sharing your passion for art in Portland, Oregon! You go gal! 🙂

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