I started looking into pit & barrel firing in the summer of 2008. I found pictures of pieces that had been pit-fired, and I loved the way the fire interacted with the clay and whatever else was in the pit. I purchased an old oil barrel and cut it in half to try this kind of firing. I was kind of disappointed, honestly. I had a splash of yellow here and there, and a lot of black soot. I didn’t have any of the colors that seemed to be promised.
While I put it aside for a while, I didn’t stop reading about pit firing. Since then I’ve learned a lot about the process, and I think I understand why I didn’t get the colors and textures I wanted, and what I can do to encourage them.
So, I’m getting ready for the next barrel fire, and I’m doing things differently. I’m creating individual saggars for the pots using paper and casting slip, to hold the fumes of the various oxides against the pots. I’m going to try to pack the barrels so that they burn a little slower and stay hot a lot longer. I’m going to wrap wire and oxide soaked cloth around the pots for texture and color.
I’ll also be trying to make this process greenware-friendly. I like to single-fire, and it seems silly to stop trying now.
Hopefully I’ll have some favorable results (with images!) soon.