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an above-ground pit? is that even a word? or just a crazy

updated tue 18 apr 06


Stephani Stephenson on mon 17 apr 06

You can do a very simple firing with very nice results
by constructing an above-ground brick enclosure.
simple stack bricks as high as you need them to be
i.e you will be making a brick wall, usually 2-3 feet hight
whatever you need to accommodate the largest pieces plus a bit more.
the shape is not so important
It can be round, square, long and narrow, etc...
stack the bricks close, but don't fuss about it.
no mortar, no insulation
make the diameter so that you can cover the top of the enclosure with
sheet metal of some sort... or some sort of covering which won't
combust, of course
and can be put in place and removed without too much trouble
insulating value is not necessarily important.
you will be filling the enclosure with sawdust and pots
you can also experiment by placing small paper packets of
materials such as magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) ,soda, salt, oxides,
near pieces.
fill the enclosure to the top with sawdust.
crunch up several wads of paper , light them
place them all over the surface of the it till you
make sure the sawdust catches
put the lids on it... make sure the sheet metal, whatever you are using
...stays on
weight it with bricks if need be.
fire will burn down to the ground. will produce remarkable little smoke
inevitable there are a few gaps in the brick
which lets in a bit of oxygen
you can fine tune these sawdust firings for certain effects.

you can also go through the process of burning wood down inside the
to build up a bed of ashes.( I use to do this by placing one metal
garbage can ,with drilled holes, inside another can/barrel)
As you are burning fuel and building bed of ash you are preheating
pieces , moving them closer in
there's more to it... but this above ground method is a traditional
way of firing in many traditions.
it is highly adaptable to the specific materials on hand.
a 'pit' is not absolutely necessary
also you can experiment with methods on a small scale
to get a feel for what happens,
firings are of course affected by weather conditions, fuel qualities,
this type of firing is quite enjoyable
and done with many variations
by many folks all over the country and the world

Stephani Stephenson