Apple Tree Ceramics
by Carolyn Horan

Pit Firing Process

Pit fired pottery

This finished piece was thrown on a wheel and then hand-burnished with a smooth stone twice during the drying process. Once bone dry, the piece was covered with oil and burnished a third time. The piece was then bisque fired in the kiln.

Carolyn placing pots in the pit.

My pit is 3ft wide, 6ft long and 3ft deep. The pit is lined with hardwood sawdust and then the pieces are nestled in the sawdust (which results in a black finish) or strategically placed around and on top of each other so they will all be exposed to the fumes from the fire. Copper carbonate is sprinkled around and lightly over the pots. Salt is sprinkled in the sawdust around the pots carefully as it should not touch the pots. Seaweed, cow manure and other chemicals or vegetation may be added depending on what is available.

Covering the lite fire pit.

The pit is filled with kindling, paper and larger pieces of hardwood and set on fire. After the wood begins burning well you can control the drafts etc. with sheet metal covers. Colors on the pieces are created spontaneously by the action of the fire as it burns and cools. No glazes are used.

The fired pots still in the pit.

About eight hours later the pots are ready to be removed from the ashes.

Carolyn talks about the pit firing process