Vol. 3. Recent industrial wood fired celadon tunnel kiln.
While in the Longquan traditional celadon region researching celadon, we took some time out to visit a former celadon factory, that was forced to close when the economy was modernised. It has now re-opened as a celadon museum/cultural park.
I found it a bit shallow and lacking in depth. That is to say what was there didn’t grab me. It may be of interest to the more general tourist, but there wasn’t enough there to speak to me, as I’m interested in the more intricate details and technical information/insights that could be included, but weren’t.
However, there was an old wood fired tunnel kiln that had been restored. This kiln was the main means of firing the celadons here right up until 1998. One can understand why it went broke and couldn’t compete with more modern factories with up to date facilities and equipment.
There was also an clay processing section that used the old fashioned water-driven, wooden clay hammers, that is a technology that dates back 1000 years. It was exactly fitted with the age of the kiln technology, So out of date for a factory setting, it is hard to believe that it managed to last right up until the 1990’s.
Clearly, this equipment hasn’t been used for many years, possibly since 1998? Just like the kiln.
All the pots produced in the wood fired tunnel kiln, were packed in saggers to protect the ware from the fly ash from the wood fuel, which is so important when making a subtle glaze like celadon.
It is interesting to see that sometime between 60 and 20 or so years ago, they wrapped some parts of the wooden roof frame with ceramic fibre to stop it singeing or charring during firing.
The saggers that were used in the kiln firings are these days used as retaining walls and breeze way walls.