April 18, 2013

Pit Firing Days

There is nothing quite like the anticipation of opening a pit fired kiln. The fire and smoke does
what it wants to do with no input from the artist, save deciding when to smother the fire and where to vent. The designs are spontaneous. Just days ago the kiln was opened and I am slowly cleaning and polishing the instruments. The one featured above is a ten hole ocarina - a sculpture that sings! Instead of applying the usual terra sigilata surface on this one, I just burnished the raw stoneware clay. The effects are stunning in pinks, blacks and cream colored patches.

For my last pit firing I tried for a second time to smother the fire with Spanish moss instead of the traditional manure. Once again, the effects were much better with the former instead of the latter. I did have to fire some of the smaller pieces, like the one at right, over again because the Spanish moss so effectively squashed the fire the pieces on the lower shelves did not get burned.
Letting the Spanish moss grow from the trees is a Southern tradition.  So is burning garbage in your back yard if you live in Orangeburg, South Carolina.  I just happened to burn my pottery on what appeared to be backyard burning day so I fit right in.

I will continue to post the results of my smokey back yard as they are photographed.

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