Nettles Kiln, MS 2014


Anagama Firing Workshop with Chris Gustin
Brian Nettles Studio, Pass Christian, MS
April, 2014

Brian Nettles home and studio is in Pass Christian, Mississippi, located in a rural area close to the Wolf River. He had built a small anagama in early 2000 to augment his studio production work, but in 2005 both his home and studio were destroyed by hurricane Katrina, the devastation vast and complete. The next few years were difficult, but Brian somehow managed over time to rebuild both his home and studio and began to work in clay again.

During Katrina, his anagama was submerged under 15 feet of ocean water for three to four days. When the waters receded, the outer shell and surrounding work areas were destroyed and the kiln was filled with silt. The kiln sat fallow and untouched for a number of years until 2013 when he decided to bring it back to life. Brian cleaned it out, rebuilt the surrounding structures and work areas, resurfaced the exterior of the kiln and did the necessary repairs so that it could fire again.

In February of 2014, Brian did his first test firing to make sure that all was ok, and invited me to come down in April to conduct a workshop and fire the kiln for it’s inaugural celebration. We had a couple dozen participants, spending two weeks together loading, firing, doing demos and celebrating the comeback of what is one of the most unique kilns I’ve seen to date.

Due to the kilns history and its submersion in salt water, the brick was saturated with salt, and consequently, the resulting ‘residual’ effects of the salt on both raw clay and glaze is breathtaking. The results were nothing short of phenomenal, and the pieces I fired are some of the best I’ve ever made. I’ve never seen results like this in any of the kilns I’ve fired, and can only thank Brian for his generosity and grit in bringing this beautiful little kiln back to life and sharing it with others. It is truly a gem.