Sufers Fire Workshop. Pforzheim University School of Design

Published: 08.02.2021
Benjamin Wengert
Edited by:
Pforzheim University School of Design
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Sufers. Jewelry Department at Pforzheim University School of Design
Benjamin Wengert
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Fire and clay play an integral part in archaic jewelry and object forming technologies. These are explored during a weeklong workshop in the Swiss alps – lot's of work, good eating, drinking, hikes, and swimming. An exhibition at the end shares the results and invites discussion with everyone in the village.

Every June, students, workshop masters, and professors spend 8-10 days at 1400 meters in the Swiss alpine village of Sufers, experimenting and working with three fire techniques: Ashanti lost wax casting, ceramic wood-firing, and raku. A clay-like body mixed with local horse dung creates the casting shells for the lost wax method, which are then heated to casting temperature in drums filled with smoldering charcoal. The ash of the burning wood placed directly inside the wood fire kiln creates organic glazes and effects on the surface of clay objects fired up to 1300°C. In the raku process, the shock of setting red hot fired clay into combustible natural materials results in the typical cracklé glaze and smoke characteristics, as well as entices metallic effects out of the glazes and the clay bodies. The days are filled with work, good eating, and drinking, with the occasional hike or swimming at 2000m. We cap the week off with an exhibition of all the results for the village – this has become a tradition for them as well as for us.