Best Pot from the Thanksgiving Firing

June 5th, 2006

I promised to write about this pot, so here it is. First some technical details: the piece stands 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) tall; the clay body was a commercial porcelaneous white stoneware clay (OH6) from Clay Art Center of Tacoma, WA. It was thrown on the wheel in one piece and burnished with a smooth pebble just after the leather hard stage. A white terra sigillata was applied, and the pot further burnished — now with a piece of lightweight clear plastic wrapped around my index finger — just right before it turned bone dry. It was then bisqued to cone 06 in an electric kiln. After the bisque it sat on my shelves for months until last Thanksgiving, when I pit fired it at my brother’s place out in the country. The process of the pit firing (in a BBQ smoker using wood and horse dung as fuel) was described in detail in a previous post so here I’ll just show some photos of the firing results.


figure 1: orange blushes of salted raffia

Many of my pit fired pieces have one side that’s more quiet, with less fire marks and fuming actions. The quiet side can have its own charm, though. Here in the “back” side of this piece (figure 1) we can see some beautiful, subtle grays (from the horse dung perhaps) on the neck, and then a range of orange and yellow-ish blushes near the bottom — probably caused by the salt from the salted raffia that I used to wrap the pot with (see my previous post for the “before” — as in “before vs. after” — pictures.)

Read the rest of this entry »

A Thanksgiving Pit Fire using Horse Dung

May 29th, 2006

This firing took place on Thanksgiving Day last year at my brother’s place out in the country. This is a good firing to analyze because it’s reasonably well documented, and because it resulted in some very successful pots — and some very unsuccessful ones, too. (Yes, you often learn more from your failures than from your successes!)

I had heard about the use of dung (mostly cow dung) in pit firing, and wanted to try it myself. So I came to my brother’s place last July and collected some dung from his horses, Midge and Skyboy. As you can see in the photo below (figure 1) Midge was rather suspicious about why I was so interested in her, er, stuff.


figure 1: collecting dung from the horses

While I could have dug a real pit and fired in there, I decided to bring along a small BBQ grill and a medium size BBQ smoker, and to do my firing in them instead; my rationale is as follows: if the firing is not too smoky, I can probably do the same thing in the city, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan’s Raku Firing Video

May 18th, 2006

Here is another video of pottery making — in this case a very smoothly executed Raku firing with excellent team work by Susan (with the tongs) and Sandy (with the lids.) Enjoy!

Marge’s soda firing video

May 17th, 2006

I know, I said that I started this blog to talk about pit firing; but I’m also taking a soda firing class at Pottery Northwest, and I happened to have gotten some good footage of a fellow potter spraying soda into the soda kiln during her firing last week. Oh yeah, I did exactly the same thing a couple days before I took this video for my own firing — but there was no one there to make a video of me doing the pyromaniac thing… Anyway, enjoy. (BTW, Marge is the one spraying, and Brad is the one helping to remove and replace the brick. Great team work!)

The Birth of a Blog

May 17th, 2006

This blog was born out of necessity. It all started a couple months ago, when I brought one of my pit fired pieces to some friends to show what wonderful things horse manure can do for a pot. (This piece was smoke-fired in a BBQ using horse manure as fuel — well, actually some wood was used, too! And okay, full disclosure: the pot had also been bisque-fired to cone 06 prior to the firing in the BBQ, and was wrapped in salted raffia with copper carbonate sprinkled about during the smoke-firing. So it’s not just horse poop!)

pitfire image 0024c

One thing led to another after the show and tell. Before long I was tasked to organize a pit firing event. Then came the myriad of questions: What kind of clay should I use? What kind of effects can I expect? What kind of forms are good for pit firing? Is there any kind of special preparations that I should do for my pot before the pit fire? What kind of preparation or treatment will cause the effects I see in this pot here?

pitfire image 0031c

Or that one over there? Read the rest of this entry »