Pit fired pottery
Pit firing is the oldest known method of firing
clay. Unfired pots are nestled together in a pit in the ground and are then covered with burnable materials such as wood shavings, leaves, metal oxides, salts, sawdust and dried manure. The top of the pit may be protected with moist clay, shards, larger pieces of wood or metal baffles. The filled pit is then set on fire and carefully tended until most of the inner fuel has been consumed. The final pit temperature is generally low to moderate, approaching 2000 °F (1100 °C). This is in the range of temperatures used by many ancient potters or those used at the lower end for earthenware. After cooling, pots are removed and cleaned to reveal dramatic patterns and colors left by ash and salt deposits. Pots may then be waxed and buffed to create a smooth glossy finish.
Within the last 25 years, a method of staining pit fired or
rakufired ware through the application of horse hair has appeared. This decorating method utilizes burnishing techniques developed by Pueblotribes of the Southwest where a thin clay slip known as terra-sigilatta is applied to the greenware (unfired) pottery before using pieces of polished agateto burnish the pottery surface to a shine. Pots are then fired but removed from the kiln while still extremely hot. Strands of horse hair laid across hot pieces leave a linear design carbon-trapped into the still vulnerable slip surface. [http://www.bayriverpottery.com/Tech.htm#Horsehair]
*Hamer, Frank and Janet. "The Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques." A & C Black Publishers, Limited, London, England, Third Edition 1991. ISBN 0-8122-3112-0.
* [http://www.holmes.anthropology.museum/southwestpottery/index.html Southwestern Native American Pottery at the Holmes Museum of Anthropology]
* [http://www.deliberatelife.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=167&Itemid=70 Step-by-step throwing and pit firing instructions]
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