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pit firing techniques

updated sat 31 aug 96


T.J. Evens on thu 8 aug 96

Hello all,
I'm relatively new to this list (this WONDERFUL list!), so forgive
me if my question has been covered in detail before (if it has, just let me
know and i'll go dig through the archives).

i am also relatively new to potting. however, with the enthusiasm
of the new initiate i am completely fascinated by the earliest techniques
of making and firing pots. in this vein, i have located and tested a
source of local clay, and i would like to begin to explore some pit firing
i have found several books on kilns, building your own kilns,
buying secondhand kilns etc. unfortunately i haven't found any good
information on digging a hole and firing pottery in it. i've thought about
adapting a downdraft kiln design, but that's just a downdraft kiln in a
hole, and doesn't really fit in with the spirit of the endeavour.

i would greatly appreciate it if someone could point me to a good
source (or sources) of information on pit firing.

kindest regards,
t.j. evens on fri 9 aug 96

In Montana we are fortunate to have an unlinited supply of cow pies. For
Pit firing, dig a hole about 18"deep with a ridge about 1/2 way down.
This is to place a grill support for the pots. Start a fire in the hole
and burn until there is a decent bed of coals /embers. Place the grill
over the hot bed, place pots upside down on the grill, and cover the
whole thing with dired frisbee quality cow pies. Two feet hign off the
ground. Let it smolder until done. To assure blackness, seal the pile with
sheet metal. Maria Martine used old license plates.A little horse manure
thrown in the mix can enrich the black. I used to teach a summer class
sarcastically described Clay program for teachers in Montana without a
budget! We dug our clay in the Pryor Mountains where the wild horses
are. Good luck. Oh, preheat the pots along the edge of the pit while
the fire is raging.
Marcia in Montana
Pit size can vary to accomodate your load.

Claudia O Driscoll on mon 12 aug 96

I just saw your posting, so you probably already have a lot of
information. If not, though, please let me know!! i also love the primitive
firing techniques, and have been doing sawdust firings for several years
now. I would love to talk to you about what happens!!!
claudia (