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pit-firing additives

updated sat 20 jul 02


Coleman Black on wed 17 jul 02

ok.. i need some input...

i am going to be doing a basic pit-firing in about a month.  i am in
the process of burnishing my pots for this.... the question i have is
well it affect the finished product at all if i were to add some copper carb
(or any other ingredient) to the water that i am using?... currently all i
am using is some water and a silver spoon to burnish my pots.  i
realize that adding ingredients to the firing well help produce some
intresting effects.  its just sumthin that has been sitting in the back
of my head. 

if the ingredients well burn off in the bisque, what about simply soaking
the bisque-ware in a water/ingredient mix... would that do anything?

the reason that i am asking is that my pit-firing is going to be rather
crude, since this is the first time that i have done it, and i am going to
be doing it while camping with a group of ppl.  so i will not be able
to come up with any sort of peep-hole to add anything...

any suggestions would be great...

thanx in advance

-Coleman Black


We have to be able to criticize what we love, to say what we have to
say, 'cause if you're not trying to make something better, than as far as I
can tell, you're just in the way.
- Ani Difranco


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and
rave at close of day;

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

- Dylan Thomas

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Leland G. Hall on fri 19 jul 02

Wow, this thread brings back memories. Near twenty years ago I was between
firefighting (USDA Forest Service) jobs, and was pretty near starving, when
I heard about an add in the classified's asking for a Potters assistant. At
the time not only did I have absolutley no experience in the arts, but also
had little interst. This guys studio turned out to be only a couple of
miles from where I was living, so I drove out to meet with him simply
because I needed a job. Bill Kennedy was his name, and an interesting
fellow. I went to work part time for him, mopping, mixing clay and
harvesting llama and sheep dung for his above ground pit kiln contraption
that he had invented. He had me mix copper carb right into the clay body,
as the dry clay went into the mixer. Then he showed me how to run it
through his pug mill. I was young and dumb at the time, probably a little
arrogant too, and we wound up not getting along that great. Had I been more
receptive at the time, I could have learned so much more from him. I
regret that I was not. As it was, I only worked one summer and part of the
next winter, then moved on. For several years I dinked around from job to
job, always unfulfilled, always looking for something to do for a living
that had some heart, some passion. I thought little of my experience with
bill. I was just surviving.Then one day, I stumbled into a very, very old
Skutt kiln for sale, and a light came on in my brain. For years I've
wished for an opportunity to apologize to him for my attitude, and to thank
him for planting the seeds in me that later, grew into an extremely
rewarding and fulfilling carreer as a working potter and sculptor. For
years I would see his work at gallerys here and there, and think of him
fondly. I've often wondered if all that direct skin contact with copper
carb while throwing affected his health in any adverse ways. His pots were
beautiful. Simple, elegant. I now realize he was a master. So anyway,
Bill, if your still out there, playing in the mud, sorry for the brief
grief I caused, and above all, thanks man. I owe it all to you. I
retained lots more than you probably imagined. I love ya man. Peace.

PS If anyone out there knows of Bill Kennedy, or of his work, let me know
will ya? And if you feel like it, bring this post to his attention, or
tell me how to contact him. Last rumor I heard, a few years ago, he was
some where in Washington state. I wonder. Thanks.

Leland Hall
Before The Wheel Enterprises in
La Pine, Oregon, where I got fed up with the dismal lighting and closed in
feeling in my studio so this morning chain sawed a hole in a wall and
installed a new south west facing window! What a great change! I love it.
A whole new feeling in there. Bet the pots will be better for it too.