When Hutchens chose his Denman Island, British Columbia property over 20 years ago it was with an eye to good sites for his own anagama kiln. Many years later, he became involved in the building of the 2 renowned Tozan kilns at Malaspina college in Nanaimo, thus meeting the "world master" of this style of anagama and noborigama kiln, Yukio Yamamoto.
Hutchens subsequently designed and built his kiln, the fourth of its kind in the world, under the guidance of Dr. Yamamoto between August 1996 and April 1998.
The kiln climbs a natural slope, which ensures the draw of heat from the main firebox at the front of the 300 cu. ft. interior space to the back chamber. Nine inches of fire brick is covered with a mixture of sandy clay from the site, mixed with as much perlite as possible. Embedded in this mud covering are as many miscellaneous scraps of insulating material as could be found.
This attention to superior insulation has resulted in a kiln that fired exceptionally evenly and in less time than Hutchens expected -two and a half days instead of a possible 4 or 5.
The pots themselves have a more natural and primitive feel than the highly technical pieces this potter usually produces. Each piece tells its own story of how it was caressed by the flame and wood ash flowing together through the pots stacked in the chamber, the ash forming its own blushes and flashes of colour as it progressively settles on the pieces.
Many of the most interesting pots are not glazed at all. Those glazes that Hutchens developed and tested in this firing were ones that he suspected would be enhanced by the interactions within the kiln and the constant alternation between oxidation and reduction as the wood was loaded approximately every 10 minutes. "The possibilities are literally infinite."