Sunday, June 23, 2013

Solstice Pit Fired Pottery Results

The Summer Solstice pottery pit fire at Alki Beach was a success.  It was a wonderful gathering of pottery enthusiasts.   Strangers on the beach joined in the fun as fire dancers twirled fireballs, and stopped by to see the pots being fired.  We used wood collected locally at a nearby forest plus some construction scraps as fuel.    I weaved seaweed and driftwood throughout the stacking of the pots and sprinkled in some copper carbonate and table salt before burning.  

The Fire Pit in Action....

Elaine, Kate, and I firing away....
 Here are some of the results from the firing.  We got a wide range of colors.  I used a lot of various slips, clay bodies, and designs.  I painted cats, owls, rabbits, fish,  birds, and even a squirrel with colored slips.  I also used geometric and organic patterned designs.
cat bowl,  pit fired earthenware with slip decoration

Cat Bowl,  pit fired earthenware with slip decoration

Side view of above bowl.  This bowl has 5 cats drawn on it.

Cat Vase

Sun Plate

Sun Plate bottom, looks like a flower
 If you are wondering why some of the pots look like they were made by hand it's because they were.  I pinched out all of these shapes with just my fingers.  A few of the pieces, the ones with the wider rims on the mouth and feet have some coils added.  The vases and bottle shapes are two part pinch pits joined together.  One piece below( the owl vase without lid) was made on a pottery wheel, the one with the lid was entirely coil built with terra cotta.
3 footed bowl.  

Cat Vase

Cat Vase, same as above

Cheasty Clay Bowl, This was made from clay dug from less than one mile from my house.   

Though this clay is prone to cracking, a fine layer of terra sigillata can be applied to the inside  to seal it from easy leakage.  

I like to hollow out the foot of most pieces to make them lighter and to give them a "pedestal" of sorts to stand on.

Moon Plate

Moon Plate inside

This was a small porcelain pinch pot that I sprayed with lacquer.  

The lacquer will enrich colors and add a glossy sheen.

The copper carbonate leaves behind red

Bottle or Vase with swirls

Tripod plate

Terra cotta vase

Spotted vase, there is a chip on the lip from the firing, unfortunately even though I dug through the ashes, I couldn't find the missing piece.

Bird plate

Hare plate

Rabbit plate

Squirrel plate

Bottom of squirrel plate is textured from a found beach log

Swirl cup

I also pinched some more pieces from my primitive head series.  The primitive heads are either pit or raku fired and they are usually representations of animals or people.  I've been making these for several years.  These ones were all made from terra cotta and were burnished with a polished stone.  


 I also made a pair of elephant figurines.....

Terra Cotta Elephants




This one is two-sided it has a lion on this side.....

.....and a face on the other




Bald Dude

Lately I've been inspired by looking at archaeology books on Pre Columbian art.  The pottery from past cultures pushed the use of slip and pit firing methods to an extreme.  Their design motifs make the work interesting from a cultural standpoint as well.   I like to make art in a similar manner and add a modern twist.  Art is often a reflection of the times in which we live, so I like to use materials that are part of the landscape and make images that are familiar to me and the times I am living in.

This is another bowl made from local clay

The inside I painted to look like the transmission towers that loom near my house, I wanted to make something that reflected the place where I made the pot.

This pot is a self portrait in profile.  Lately I have been trying to make self portraits in each series of work  I make.  I am interested in seeing how these evolve over time. The light and shadow plus colored slips worked really well for this one.

This is a side view of the Self Portrait Bowl shown above

Cat Plate

Owl Vase,  Although tis vase isn't able to hold water without it soaking through, it can be used as a dry vase or mantle piece.  

Often the more that a piece is buried in burning organic material, the darker the piece gets.  The bottom of this piece was buried in ash and therefore has a darker gray.

Lidded Container Owl, coil built terra cotta

The lid was pinched and then coils were added to the rim

Two-faced bottle, with cap

Carved Bowl

A couple of the pieces have black designs burnt onto the surface from  seagull feathers we found on the beach.  I took the pots out of the fire while they were hot and we drew designs using the soft ends of the feathers.

This pot was made from pressing the clay into a hole I had carved out of a pumice  boulder that I found at the Baker River.  It creates fabulous texture.
Pinched, coiled, and carved vase

Heavy modeling on the foot.

Cat Ware

Moon Pots

For more information on how to participate in one of our pit firings, please send me an email at  or contact me on this blog.  Thanks for looking.

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