Potter, June Ambro, Embraces Using Wood-fired Kilns for the Surprise Elements They Add to Her Work
Updated: Jun 11
Wood-fired ceramic artist, June Ambro, seen here keeping the fires burning in a wood-fired kiln. Meet June and see her work at Blue Moon Gallery’s Opening Reception on June 24, 2023 from 6-9 PM, 18620 Belvidere Road, Grayslake, IL. On display until July 9, 2023. Scroll down for more art...
When it comes to wood-fired ceramics, it takes a village, award-winning potter, June Ambro, is quick to point out. Although wood-fired ceramics are labor intensive where fires are stoked 24/7 with a crew working in six to eight-hour shifts, the end results are stunning.
June has enjoyed art all her life saying, “I am a maker. From my earliest memories to the present, I have practiced the art of making things: two dimensional, three dimensional, functional pieces, and sculptural objects.”
In 2010, she returned to the ceramic studio after years away, and was quickly riveted by wood-fired kiln work. Hand-building, or throwing and altering, she makes vessels, vases and lidded vessels placing them into kilns that are either wood-fired or electric.
“With an electric kiln, there are no surprises,” June explains. “What you put in is exactly what you take out without reduction.”
However, she adds, wood-firing offers a completely different result.
“In this case, what you take out has a lot of variables depending on the type of wood used to feed the kiln and how high the temperatures can get,” she says. “It also offers the opportunity for deposits of ash to add artistic elements that collect on the surface.”
Her years working as a 2-D artist have inspired the embellishments she draws on her ceramics. The natural world is strongly represented on her pieces where she employs a neutral plus bright color palette.
“My attention to surface quality allows me to imbue my work with a sense of time and emotion,” she says. “Pottery is the most intimate of all art. You cradle it in your hands, and touch it with your lips. My hope is to interact with my user/viewer on a visceral level."
Her work is both food-safe and functional adding that she’s not a production potter – everything is one-of-a-kind.
And what are her words of wisdom for others engaged in an art journey?
“Build up your knowledge about your materials and how to use them. Don’t be discouraged by first attempts – practice makes interesting. The only way to find your own voice is to go to your studio and work. Follow the thread in your own work that you like and keep pushing through. That’s how your work gets its unique stamp.”
June's prices range from $40 for a whisky sipper to $300 for a large-sculptured bowl. For more information, visit the Blue Moon Gallery's website: Blue Moon Gallery (thebluemoongallery.com)
Polka Dot Cookie Jar
LOADED KILN -- It can take up to two days to load the wood-fired kiln and another two days to fire. Placement in the kiln is key to successful firing -- can't have any cold spots.
VIEW INSIDE THE WOOD-FIRED KILN -- can you see the loaded ceramics through the flames? June says a mix of hardwood and pine works well -- pine gets hot quickly and hardwood throws off more BTUs.
Ceramic artist, June Ambro.