Beginner’s Luck — My First Pit Fired Pots (4)

Now here (figure 1) is an even more ancient looking pot than the last one. Again, the clay body and the bisque temperature (white porcelaneous stoneware, cone 06) are the same as the other pots in this firing. What’s different here is the colorant used in the terra sigillata. In this case, a white terra sig with manganese dioxide mixed in was used to give an earthy brown tone to the piece. (This is what I think anyway — see below for an alternate explanation of where the brown might have come from instead.)


figure 1: real ancient looking pot

Even more so than the last piece, the crazing (figure 1 and 2) strongly influences the overall look and feel of the piece. Here, the tiny cracks attracted more smoke and fumes and showed a darker color than the surrounding, terra sig covered areas. This is not always the case with all pots and all firings, however. Sometimes you’ll see the terra sig taking on deep, rich colors while the cracks showing the lighter color of the bare clay instead.


figure 2: effect of manganese dioxide?

In a previous post I wrote about mistakenly thinking steel wool was part of the packing materials for another pot — well, it turns out this is the pot with the steel wool on it. So what’s the effect of the steel wool? From my other (more recent) firings I have noticed that a muted orange-brown often results from having steel wool on or near the surface of the pot. So maybe the brown tone here is not from the manganese dioxide after all, but from the steel wool instead? Hmm, good question — add that to the list of experiments I still need to perform…

By the way, besides the steel wool, some salted grasses and real seaweed had been packed around this pot as well; and in all likelihood they contributed to the color mix too!

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