Question:

What are some Black Firing Tips and Tricks?

Technique

Pit Firing
Early cultures found clay in the ground and must have discovered its plastic and fired qualities by accident, probably discovering some burnt clay in a camp fire. This very basic firing then evolved into the pit-firing. Pit-firing involves placing unfired or bisque fired pottery in a pit in the ground, then covering the pottery with suitable burning materials, e.g. dried grasses and branches. Depending on the amount of work to be fired, a pit of the appropriate size is dug. A bed of dry leaves and twigs and possibly coal, which will burn slowly, is placed at the bottom of the pit and the pottery placed on top of this. The work is then covered with more leaves and twigs and dung, if available, building up a mound over the pieces. Once the stacking process is finished, the pile can be lit around the edges and left to smolder for several hours, if not until the next day. Towards the end of the burning process, it is possible to bury the pit in earth or sand, which will cut off the oxygen supply and create a strong reducing atmosphere inside the mound. Not all clays are suitable for such a firing, especially the more refined types available from suppliers. Additions of grog 'open up' the clay and make it more resistant to heat shock. Clays dug directly from the earth may be suitable 'as is', or might profit from additions of grog or volcanic ash, which also resists severe temperature differences. If using a commercial clay, get a clay suitable for raku firings. The best color results can be achieved with iron bearing, or red clays.

History

Black Firing Amongst the 'primitive' firing techniques you will find the technique of Black Firing. This method involves heating a primitive gas-brick kiln to about 1000oC (these days with gas) and then adding copious amounts of sugar, which then volatilize and impregnate the clay with carbon, giving it a matt black surface. Glazes may also be used with this method, which can result in some interesting effects. The required temperature is usually reached in about five hours. The gas is then shut off and flue and any cracks sealed. Sugar is pushed into the burner port and volatilizes. Then the burner port is quickly sealed with bricks and fire clay. The kiln cools slowly and can be opened the next day.

Black Firing Tips and Tricks

Black Firing Tips and Tricks Read this great article on Blackfiring by one of the masters of this technique, Salvatori Lolicato: Black-firing - Black Firing Tips and tricks

Description

Woodfiring has an age-old tradition in ceramics. The very first ceramics ever fired were done (probably accidently) in camp fires and rudimentary kilns thousands of years ago. Under woodfiring we now understand firing a brick kiln with wood as fuel. This necessitates a a certain kiln contsruction type, sometimes with several burning chambers and stoking ports for feeding in the wood. As the wood burns, ash is created which deposits itself on pots in the kiln, creating a natural 'wood ash' glaze. These natural glazes are made from silica, potash, calcia and other various ingredients that form naturally in the burnt wood.

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