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fake pit firing

updated fri 24 oct 97


Barbara Mann on sat 4 oct 97

Just joined list so I didn't get any other discussion on school pit
firing except Millie's query.

Until I made my part-time "real" job full time last year, I did
Artist-in-Residence programs in schools. Did a number of pit firings
and the kids loved it. My rules were: 1)involved the principal from the
get-go and let him/her decide whether to call the fire dept. for
permission (always got it OK), did it far away from the
least 200 ft and more if possible, 3) if windy, it was cancelled, 4)
always had at hand a live hose or many buckets of H2O, 5) prepared site
the day before and roped off at least 20 ft around pit for safe zone.

I used Raku clay. On leather hard clay, I had students paint 1 color of
Campbell's Underglaze Brights (Campbell's Ceramic Co. Richmond, VA
comparable to Amaco Velvets), then we did sgraffito designs. Bisqued
the pots before pit firing. Really, the pit firing just consisted of
building a campfire of sticks and kinda smoking the bisqued pots, but
the kids could feel the heat and make the connection between that and
making the pots hard.

I've also done workshops on this for teachers and used the Webber kettle
grill for the "pit firing." Did this in an enclosed courtyard.
Apparently, our fire dept has no problems at all with enclosed fires
in kettle grills. The s'mores were a treat, too.