Wednesday night in Londonderry artists gathered at Wiley Hill Mudworks for the opening of the kiln. Paul Haigh, a resident, is falling back on his hobby to make his new living. Paul finds himself in his basement creating pottery, which he then fires in his wood fire kiln which is located in his backyard. On March 18th the zoning board granted a special exception to Paul to establish his pottery business Wiley Hill Mudworks out of his home. Paul started his love of pottery in high school. After high school Paul continued to create pottery and entered some competitive challenges. A chemist, by trade Paul began to find time to pursue his hobby again these past three to four years.
Paul works on pottery over time and has over 100 of pieces of work when he fires up the wood fired kiln three to four times a year. Each firing takes a cord of wood and the process takes almost a full day. The flame of the wood firing process gives each stoneware pot a warmth and unique character that you will discover more with each use. In fact, the kiln gets so hot that the wood ash melts and becomes a glaze on the surfaces it touches. Some pots have “shadows” from the pots in front of them in the flames path. It’s an extreme, less predictable environment, and the survival rate of any pot is far less than other methods of firing pottery (gas, electric, etc.).
The kiln was stacked full of work done by five different artists all with various styles. When the specialized bricks were removed, and the light entered the kiln , pottery could be seen stacked from floor to ceiling giving those that helped remove the items the feeling of being a tomb raider. Bowls, mugs, chalices, pitchers, with interesting textures, and colors created by the heat of the ash, and the glaze that each artist chose for their piece where displayed inside. Paul had created a unique bird house for a friend in the Carolina’s. His niece, with the same love of pottery designed her own pedestal sink.
Peppered around the kiln where small objects that look like the jaw of an animal still containing the teeth. This object is used as a method to measure the heat of the kiln.
These pots are designed for use. They are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe (but don’t put them on a stove top burner). Paul takes all his orders over the internet. You can find Paul’s collection at wileyhill.angelfire.com.
Visit the Londonderry Hometown Online News Darkroom for all the film from the evening.