There is fire in Holley’s hills

Amidst the white sandy beaches, there is fire in Holley’s hills. Navarre is home to Florida’s largest kiln, an anagama kiln, and this 60 foot dragon had a special firing this month in preparation for the Feb. 10 viewing of the documentary “Alchemy: Anatomy of a Wood Fired Kiln.” Created by award winning director and producer Patty Newton, the film documented the challenging process of building a “cave kiln” or Japanese anagama. This style of kiln is ancient, like 15,000 years old ancient, and by all accounts magical.This beast is a long tunnel of flame buried into an embankment of dirt with a upwards of 20 foot chimney sticking out the top. It takes days for this wood powered monster to get hot enough to work its magic on the hundreds of pottery pieces tucked inside its belly, but I have to say it is worth it. The kiln gets so hot it turns the wood ash inside into liquid that rains down on the pottery. This liquid ash becomes a beautiful array of colors splashed upon the pots surfaces. One pot from a previous firing had emerald green, bright yellows and orangey stripes, all from the ash. At night you can see the flames shooting out of the massive chimney from a mile away and feel the heat radiating off its brick and clay body.The Imogene Theater in Milton will be doing a special premier of the film documentary on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for a requested $5 donation, and a social hour will precede the viewing.    The kiln will finally be cool enough to be opened the following day as part of the annual WoodStoke Festival and Kiln Openings starting at 9 a.m. Homemade seafood and chili will also be served at noon.

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