The Story of Dave Lynas’ Woman Vases

Now that I’ve been selling these wonderful vases for women’s rites of passage for a while, I thought I’d give some background into the love and care that goes into creating them.

I recently spent some time with artist, Dave Lynas and his partner, Yanus Andler. It was a privilege to witness the use of a wood-fired kiln on Anne Sternbenz-Duus’ property near Duluth, with the billowing black smoke coming out of the chimney as the fire was stoked continually.

Here are some of Dave’s words about the vases and the process of firing them:

Photo by Genevieve Munoz

Wood firing requires a lot of hard work.

Most firing requires a chord of wood if not more. Mine takes about 2 chords. The wood has to be very dry and split into “hammer handle” pieces the right length for the firebox. We had very good wood for this firing and it cut down on the total hours needed to reach temperature. Wood firing is done to cone 10 or hotter in order to make natural ash glaze. During the firing wood is stoked often (about once a minute or two). It’s hot enough to burn a lot of wood in a few minutes. The wood explodes once into the kiln producing thick black smoke out the stack. Much like a steam locomotive.

Dave Lynas and Yanus Andler – Photo by Genevieve Munoz

Once hot enough, the kiln shoots flame out the stack as well. The thick smoke produces reduction in the firing. This colors and glazes the pots to reflect the flames that lick at the work. Pyrometric cones of clay in the kiln tell the temperature. They melt over at the various stages of the firing. Bricks are pulled from the kiln to look in at the cones. These are “peeps”. Once the black thick smoke clears to a shimmering heat it is time to stoke again. It helps to have teams firing. Two potters help each other stoke and haul wood. These are replaced by two more potters in a couple of hours. Shifts of potters can fire a kiln for many days this way. The big kilns require many days to fire. It takes a long time to cool the kiln also. There is a lot of heat sealed in and slowly cooled to make nice glazes and natural beauty. It’s a lot of work, but worth it to the eye and feel. Once the kiln is cool enough a kiln opening is held. It’s a party and art show. Each piece is pulled from the kiln and shown and held. It’s like Christmas if the work is good.

Of all the firing processes, I like wood firing the best.

I enjoyed the process of this series and thank Jenny (Genevieve) for making it possible.

~ Dave Lynas, potter