December 16, 2015

Metallic Sheen from a Pit Firing

All of the pottery that comes from my pit fires are experiments.  I try different combinations of organic substances and different levels of oxidation and reduction with each firing.  This yields unexpected surprises.  In my last firing I used  cedar chips, a pile of twigs, and a lot of Spanish Moss.  I kept the atmosphere very reduced with a stopped up kiln for several hours.  The results surprised me.  Although the very dark pots that emerged could be expected from the black sooty atmosphere, everything was covered with an iridescent sheen.  My natural caramel colored clay udu drums turned platinum, copper and silver.  Usually I don’t get too emotional when I open my kiln but I found myself tearing up at the sheer beauty of these surfaces.  The results were almost like a raku firing.  Beautiful!
The waxing and buffing I did to protect the surface of the pit fired vessels took some of the metallic look out but there was still enough preserved to please.  This at least helped compensate for the earlier loss of three udu drums due to premature firing and some clay instability. 
I should try to emulate this effect for the next firing, but I’ve determined to oxidize more and add different organic materials for a more traditional saggar fire.  More experiments yet to come.

1 comment:

M. Woods said...