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pit fire and sawdust in metal can....

updated sat 6 nov 99


Terry Sullivan/Nottingham Center for the Arts on fri 5 nov 99


As far as the sawdust in metal can go there is a very definite maximum
temperature that this type of fire can reach.

A pit fire can reach much higher temps. This isn't always the case of course.
Some folks pit fire for effects which do not require more temp than the
effects gotten in sawdust firings and don't go for the higher temp.

The pit allows the use of some materials which would not reach high enough
temp. for much or any effect.

Last week we had Marc Lancet , Solano Community College, come do a pit fire
workshop. I dug a trench 15 ft long, 5 ft wide and 4 ft deep ( backhoe ).
We decorated the pots with salt/oxide washs, slips, OOO steel wool, copper
wire and mesh, copper spray paint and various other materials. these were
bedded in a layer of sawdust with rock salt at the bottom of the pit and
covered with about 10-12 cu. yards of rough dry ocean driftwood composed of
bamboo and various woods.

The whole thing was lit off at sunset and produced 15 ft., high very intense
flames. After burning for about 1/2 hr. the pit was covered with corregated
metal with each end held open for a draft. This burned well into the night
and was still going very strong when we ended the party and retired for the

At 10 a.m. we uncovered the pit and dug out the still quite hot pots.
>From the effects I would assume we easily reached 1600 + degrees.
Copper wire and mesh were gone leaving wonderful black marks on the pots.
Lots of red flashing, whites and deep blacks.
Best effects from about 30 participants different clay bisque was on B Mix
which had been thoroughly burnished.

Heck of a way to fire pots but sure was a hit at the party.

Terry Sullivan
Nottingham Center for the Arts
Nottingham Center for the Arts