Pitfiring

Last week I did another pit firing – with some of my best results so far. (Check out my Etsy shop for a few pieces currently available). I’ve learned a lot from other potters and from experimenting with my pit.

I’ve been really fortunate to work with Cambo Gardens in Fife who have given me a small space to experiment. The aim is eventually to offer others the opportunities to come and fire pots in this exciting and unpredictable way too. My pit is gradually getting bigger, the hotter it is the better the results have been.

I use a lot of organic materials in my firing – seaweed, banana skins, coffee, shells, plants/grasses, pine cones…plus driftwood which has lots of minerals in it as well as some oxides and salts..

I surround the pots with organic materials and wrap each one in newspaper. They are placed on a bed of straw and sawdust with some colourants sprinked about them. I put some wood on top to protect the pots before adding the driftwood.

Next up is a layer of driftwood, sawdust, colourants and newspaper. I try to have a touch paper ‘fuse’which burns down into the depths of the pit.

It’s great to see the pots emerge from the embers, not so great to hear a ping which might mean a crack…I’ve been pretty lucky so far.

I create a reduction atmosphere by covering the pit and sealing it as best I can. Then it gets left for at least 24 hours. When the pots are cool they get emptied of ash, washed, then polished up.

I’m gaining an understanding of where are the best spots in the pit and how to pack pots for better results. Lots of experimenting so far and more to come.

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