Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...
~Rumi

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Home "Pit Fire"~ More Experimentations

You may recall from a previous post the dilemma I'm having in my micaceous clay class. We were scheduled to have our big pit- fire this weekend, but due to our very dry weather, the fire hazard for an open outdoor firing is too high so it is postponed until??? While once the pieces are bisqued they are ready use, it is the pit fire that gives them the traditional smoke cloud. I talked to my instructor about doing a few pieces in my little fireplace at home, & he thought it could possibly work- so I gave it a shot. 
There's a bowl & a pot burning away in that pile of wood, & you can see the mug under the grate.


Interesting results, but I don't think I'd do it this way again. The mug didn't get hot enough to achieve a smoke cloud, but rather an all over smokey look.


My bean pot... hmmmm, it turned out ok, but the backside got a little too smoky in my opinion.


My last piece~ a large salad bowl, I thought turned out rather nice.


But alas, the salad bowl was not meant to be. I carried it to school today in a bag full of potluck goodies, which I knocked against my car while grabbing another armful of things... and, well, you guessed it, knocked a chunk of the top! :( Dang it!!   And yes, I do admit I did utter a few choice words just a little stronger than that! But to me, working with clay  is always a lesson in non- attachment. Things break, can blow in the kiln, or you can ruin an otherwise awesome piece by choosing the wrong glaze, (or trying to do a pit fire in your fireplace.)  But it's hard not to be attached to the micaceous pieces, because they are so labor intensive. While I am getting a litter faster, each pot can take me at least 5 hours from start to finish! Our last class is friday and I'm still not sure exactly what I'll do about the real pit fire, but I do have some ideas percolating. We did do a Raku firing of a few pieces last week, which I thought turned out pretty cool... I'll share the results soon!
:)

14 comments:

Tammie Lee said...

ah, sorry to hear about your braking pot. I remember once telling my friend a potter that I broke one of her pieces, she smiled and said that is what keeps her in business! Oh.

I love the shapes of each piece, you have a wonderful style, me thinks.

Linda Starr said...

Those are some beautiful results you got in the fireplace. I find pit or barrel fired pieces are often more fragile than kiln fired ones because they don't always go hot enough to vitrify, so sorry about the broken pot. I've done barrel fired pieces in my back yard several times and now I picked up a miniature weber BBQ being tossed by my neighbors and want to try smoking some pieces in that one of these days. It's all so much fun.

Ms. Becky said...

these remind me of a beautiful bowl I bought from a gallery in Taos during my last visit to N.M. The artist had used horsehair in the firing, somehow. sadly, I broke it about a year ago. I'm coveting that mug now...

Randy said...

I think they turned out great and I really like the smoke on the bean pot. So sorry that they broke but I know you will have something for Friday. Still waiting for you to have that pottery sale. Pieces will be flying off the table.

Randy said...

Oh and I think last night went ok. I think our teacher was a little upset because she wanted a big critique but people were just too shy to share. I agree with you about that area. It would be a great area to live in.

clairz said...

"... a lesson in non-attachment..." Interesting thought.

Now, who knew you could fire pieces right at home in your fireplace? Perhaps the broken pieces are asking to be put together in a different way? Once...

Barb said...

Dang it all to Hang...don't you hate when you break something you really like? That cup looks like it was sprinkled with golden pixie dust. (Send some of that dry air my way...)

marianne said...

i love your creativity and willingness to try the fireplace- if one thing doesn't work, try another. tho it sucks to break the salad bowl it did show you that it was possible to come up with a piece you liked using a different method. look forward to learning more!

DirtKicker Pottery said...

Fantastic fireplace results. Sorry about your beautiful salad bowl. I get much more attached to hand built pieces. The effort is so concentrated compared to wheel thrown work.

sandy said...

Did you put a glaze on these pieces? I know for sure you did on the cup, but what about the big pieces?


How did potters fire their work before kilns? I assume it was done outdoors.

Becky, You could put an article in the New Mexico Magazine about your work. I was just there looking to see if they had a category in the photo contest just starting for "I will be there soon" people. They don't!

becky said...

Hey there, Becky here! Thanks everyone for your comments~ they are always such fun to read & it's always a pleasure to have you here :)!
@ Sandy- nope, no glaze on any of them, not even the mug- just micaceous slip (scroll down a few posts & you'll see!)
The pieces are bisqued in the kiln first, then pit (or in this case fireplace) fired.
Good point though, there was a time before kilns! Ah, NM mag- I've got my eye on their photo contest for the fall. Just gotta figure out their new digital entry system & how to change MB's.
@ Clair- you know I was out hiking today & I had a thought on how to save that bowl. It was only a chip off the top- I may be able to resand, re-slip & refire! Thanks for planting that seed!

Kathleen said...

My heavens, Becky!
Your work is just GORGEOUS!
I truly love all of it!

Rick said...

I'll be happy to send some of our (constant) rain your way if you'll return the favour with some warm & dry weather ;-)

I think that cup turned out really well - love that colour ! As for the little outburst - I'd call those workin' words. Don't you hate it though when you only have yourself to yell at - just not as satisfying ;-)

Good luck with the last class.

Annie said...

Becky, I love these! The mug is perfect :-). I am sorry about the salad bowl. You know I can relate!
I guess we just have to detach, it's the journy, right? Can you fire all clay in a fire place?
Very brave and I think the results are stunning! xoxo