Pit firing

Finally this day has arrived! I was waiting for it so long time. Pit firing day! :)
This is the picture I saw when I woke up - foggy morning, sleepy, humid and warm....

With Pit firing I've learned a new word - "pit". As I understood, this technique is a combination of a primitive way to fire ceramics in a simple pit, filled with iron oxidized with acid and other materials like algae, leaves, horse hair, salts e t c... This is the description I found in Wikipedia:

 "..Pit firing is the oldest known method for the firing of pottery. Examples have been dated as early as 29,000–25,000 BCE. Kilns have since replaced pit firing as the most widespread method of firing pottery, although the technique still finds limited use amongst certain studio potters. Unfired pots are nestled together in a pit in the ground and are then covered with combustible 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. At around 1,100°C (2,000°F) the maximum temperatures are moderate compared to other techniques used for pottery[3]. After cooling, pots are removed and cleaned to reveal patterns and colors left by ash and salt deposits. Pots may then be waxed and buffed to create a smooth glossy finish..."

Isn't exciting? I almost feel myself a cavewoman!

When I arrived to the place I found my workshop mates sanding pieces.
In difference to Wikipedia description we had already fired pieces (in an electric kiln) prepared, made of hight temperature white impalpable chamotte clay.
I only had made some bangles, some little pieces and one quite imperfect and unfinished wheel thrown pot.
Do you remember these bangles?
bangles bangles
I sanded a bit my pieces too and wrapped them with an iron mesh adding leaves and algae fixing everything with fabric and thread. IMG_8603_1 IMG_8608_1 IMG_8612_1 IMG_8605_1

This handsome guy surprised myself licking my legs - they must be tasty hehe :) IMG_8595_1 IMG_8590_1 IMG_8593_1 IMG_8609_1 IMG_8611_1
Iron mesh and small details are added and oxidized then with acid to create rust impressions on the surface of pieces.
IMG_8614_1 IMG_8617_1 IMG_8616_1 IMG_8626_1
Iron mesh and algae.Algae are added because of high salts content which in high temperature create beautiful red coloring.
My bangles and pieces ↑   and my pot (many thanks to Catie for the arrows :)) 
IMG_8629_1 IMG_8655_1 IMG_8651_1 IMG_8647_1 IMG_8659_1 IMG_8657_1
Acid IMG_8672_1
My mistake was using new fabric - it didn't absorbe acid well. IMG_8673_1
Putting pieces to the pit IMG_8707_1 IMG_8694_1 IMG_8689_1
Pieces covered with algae IMG_8690_1
...and wood shavings...algae and wood shavings...salts...algae and wood shavings....salts...
I felt myself little bit witch :)
Ready to go! :) IMG_8715_1
Fire! IMG_8721_1 IMG_8728_1 IMG_8729_1
We'll come back in few days when wood shaings are completely consumed by fire...and pots are get cold.. IMG_8706_1
It's time for a nap! IMG_8738_1


  1. I can't wait to see the results! It looks fantastic already!! The work you put into your creations, the continuing education, your fine aesthetic, always surprising and exciting...it is an inspiration for all artists.

  2. WoW .. I love the whole process! You left us with a cliff hanger .. I can't wait to see the final project!! What fun!!!!

  3. So interesting!! I'm looking forward the results too!

  4. amazing!
    i love when the process is something this creative and beautiful, and yes, witchy : )
    i can't wait to see how your pieces turn out.
    so glad i could help with the →arrows← ♥

    1. Anastasia,
      This is really fascinating and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your process with us! After reading this I want to go create something of my own, which I think is a sign of good art-it inspires. I can't wait to see how those bangles come out!

  5. Thank you so very much, ladies!
    I'll post the results very soon :)

  6. how exiting ! Feels like I've joined by watching these pics !

  7. me encantó el post :)
    gracias por compartir las fotos!

    que experiencia tan enriquecedora, y debe ser muy emocionante el hecho de que aprendiste una técnica tan antigua, como un viaje en la máquina del tiempo :)

  8. Hi Anastasia, I was just browsing through old posts on your blog and found this! I just think this is the MOST amazing process, so ancient and rich with history! I love the fact that you won't really know what it looks like until it comes out of the fire, SO FUN! It amazing to me that with this process, and also with the process of working metal like I'm learning to do, how old the techniques are, and that over all these many years we are using our hands to make art and objects in the same way as people have done for so many years! Thanks for sharing this process, and for your beautiful works of art!!!

    1. Sierra! Thank you so much for droping a peek to this blog post!
      Yes, I was totally excited to discover this ancient way to fire ceramics and most exciting thing is how you said - "you won't really know what it looks like until it comes out of the fire"! :)