About the Process
Most of Eva Funderburgh’s ceramic work is wood fired. While wood has been one of the earliest fuels for firing ceramic wares, modern ceramic artists mostly fire with wood to give their work a unique look caused by the flame, the ash, and the atmosphere of the kiln. It’s an ancient technique that’s continued to evolve over centuries of use.
For the last 15 years, Eva has been part of the firing crew at two Japanese-style “anagama” wood kilns in Washington state: Steve Sauer’s “Ochawangama” and Ken Lundemo’s “Santatsugama”.
The magic of wood firing relies on wood ash’s ability to melt into a ceramic glaze at a high temperature. The wood not only heats the kiln, it provides a beautiful and unpredictable surface decoration as well. Eva seldom adds glazes to her work, letting the ash and the flame do the decoration. She’ll use darker stonewares for antlers or purer porcelains for teeth, but the colors she leaves up to the kiln. Careful placement of the sculptures within the kiln can encourage the flame to play across the sculptures in the perfect way.
While the result can be beautiful, the process is intense and exhausting, for both the clay and the artists. A firing typically takes at least nine artists coming together to collaborate in firing all of their work in a 15-18ft long kiln. They'll work in continuous eight hour shifts for up to total of 130 hours. The firing can reach up to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, much hotter than most ceramic firings. Pieces can be damaged or destroyed from misplaced wood or the stress of the process. Despite the stress and the risk, the artists repeatedly trust the work to the fire and the kiln.
In the end, wood fire creates work that no other process can replicate. Each piece is a collaboration between the artist, the kiln, the fire, and their community of colleagues.
About the Artist
Eva Funderburgh is a Seattle-based sculptor, with a Bachelor’s of Science and Art from Carnegie Mellon University. After college, she returned to her birthplace of Seattle, where she focused on ceramics. In 2010, she was an artist in residence in Denmark at the Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center, an experience that inspired her to revisit her college installation work.
After the residency, she expanded the scope of her art, working in installation and bronze casting, in addition to continuing her work in ceramics. In 2015, she was part of the Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Boot Camp. She now teaches bronze casting part time, and is a full time sculptor working in public art, installation, ceramics, and cast bronze.
In 2019, she returned to Guldagergaard for a second residency. During the trip, she started a guerrilla art project, where she recruited her online followers to hide small sculptures world wide. She now has artwork hidden (and in private collections) in at least twenty countries.