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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Flames from The Sawdust

My first sawdust firing was a grand success!
I fired the pots yesterday. Being October, I was waiting for a day I had time to do this and dry enough. I started a fire in my grill the day before to heat up the wet bricks and had the fire blazing all day. The pots are made of local Red Clay. I had made some of them on my treadle wheel and some of them by coil. Most decorated with shells. They were plenty dry, but I placed them on the grill over new hot coals the next morning to heat them up and remove moisture. My bricks I had mortered with my stoneware clay earlier this summer and they have dried and heated up over the summer BBQ's to set the clay pretty well. I wanted the mortar to be temporary. I can easily knock these apart to make a new kiln or use them for something else.

When the coals yesterday were down to a small glowing log, I raked it around and set 3 inches of very dry sawdust on the bottom. I then carefully placed the pots about 2" apart, bigger ones on the bottom filled with sawdust and small pots or whimseys. 3 more inches of sawdust on top and then another layer of smaller pots. I kept them about 3 inches from the walls with 4 inches of sawdust on the very top, a layer of crumpled newspaper and my burning piece of log. Soon the paper caught on fire and the sawdust began to burn and smoke. I placed a tin lid on the top and left it to smolder.

16 hours later, the next morning at 8:00, the sawdust had burned down with only a dotting of hot sawdust embers and the pots were cool enough to handle. And here are the results.

The pots are still fragile. The smoke and carbon have turned most of them black, but the effect is quite pleasing. And they are hard.

The last photo has a spash of yellow. This is where I actually put a diagonal band of yellow vanadium slip. Most of any colors I applies has disapeared or turned black.
Now I have to wait till spring for another attempt... glazing in saggers perhaps?

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