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Firing Log

ancient kiln | 21st century logbook

February 19, 2007

Podcast: Simon Levin, Intentional Pottery

Filed under: anagama,General,Kiln,Pieces,Potters,sound & video — odin @ 2:18 am

In this installment of the Firing Log podcast, we travel to Wisconsin where Simon Levin fires an anagama kiln.

Download the episode directly or through iTunes (mp3, 60:00, 55mb).

Note: The iTunes link requires iTunes to be installed on your computer. If you do not have iTunes, use the “direct” link — it is probably most convenient to right click the link, choose “save as” from the context menu, and then listen to the file in your preferred player after it has downloaded.

Update: Simon now has work available for sale in the Oten Gallery Shop.

Simon was consumed by wood fire pottery to such an extent, it overwhelmed his original aspirations for a legal career. Choosing instead to become an artist devoted to capturing the imprint of flame in his work, Simon has had remarkable success.

Simon's success at anagama firing is apparent in this plate Photo gallery of Simon’s work.

Simon’s pottery is beautiful, and springs from his deep understanding of wood fired kilns and his thoughtful technique with clay. The years he has spent learning to build and fire wood kilns has clearly paid off in his work as can be seen in the photo gallery related to this podcast, and at his online shop. There is more to Simon however, then the pottery he produces. There is an intellect and understanding behind the work which takes his skill to strange and wonderful places.

Simon built a wood fired kiln in East Timor in order to enable local production of water filtration equipment. In essence, he turned his knowledge of wood fired ceramic art, and pointed it toward the production of potable water for an entire village. There is a social beauty in the fact that Simon’s understanding of wood firing has directly and fundamentally improved living conditions for many people.

In addition to the East Timor kiln, Simon has built anagamas at Mill Creek, Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville), Corning Community College (see the entry on Fred Herbst), and Syracuse University.

Simon Levin mug shot

Simon has published a number of articles, many of which deal with developing a philosophy toward ceramic art. During the podcast, he discusses how philosophy and metaphor can be helpful in guiding one’s work, and suggests methods for sparking new ideas or refining old ones.

In truth, there was barely enough time in the allotted hour and some topics were necessarily left out. For example:


  1. The direct link for the simon levin podcast is not working. I tried the itunes link as I have itunes and that did not seem to work either. Can you get them up and running please, as I would love to hear it.

    Comment by Victor Hart — March 7, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  2. I’m not sure why the iTunes link is not working — I just tested it on two computers and it worked fine. Perhaps my server was down the day you tried. As for the direct link, there was a subtle typo. I redid the link and tested — it’s working now.

    I’m making no excuses for my error, but sometimes it happens, and sometimes it is possible to get what you want without the website’s help. For example, look at the two URLs (incorrect, correct):

    The error is in the date part of the file name — the file was actually from February but I erroneously identified it as being from January. Now, this blog entry’s date stamp is Feb. 19, so it wouldn’t be an unreasonable guess when a file isn’t found, to think it was incorrectly named. Just copy the incorrect URL into the url bar, and start modifying things, in this case, the thing to do would be to change the January (“01″), to February (“02″). It’s fun, like a puzzle. ;-)

    Comment by odin — March 11, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  3. hi odin,
    thanks for putting up these wonderful podcasts. i love listening to them. the simon levin podcast was terrific. he is one of my favorite potters and really gets unique and nice colors and textures out of his kiln. i would love to meet him someday. i especially liked the part of reduction downfiring and getting that nice matte finish. speaking of which i have recently been reading a lot about using water during firings and will email you an article seperately. thanks- andy

    Comment by andy — March 14, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  4. hi oten,

    just wanted to say i’m really enjoying these podcasts. thanks for the work that goes into making them.

    heidi, in los angeles.

    Comment by heidi — March 14, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

  5. Thank you Andy. There is an interesting article in “Ceramics Technical”, Vol. 13, Page 57, entitled “Consider a Little More Water in Your Fire” by Marie Woo and John Stephenson. They investigated ancient Chinese kilns that actually employed a pool of water on top of the kiln at one point during the firing to achieve “water reduction” in the production of silver/black roof tiles. You should probably check out this article if you haven’t already.

    Comment by odin — March 14, 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  6. This is great! The podcast is so amazing! I’m a passionate person when it comes to pottery making. That is why I appreciated this kind of an art.

    Comment by Claypot — November 19, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

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