Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Primitive Firing- Making Pottery Without a Kiln

Success! I fired my "homemade" clay-(see my previous post for directions to dig and screen your own clay)- in my little backyard fireplace. I learned so much and it was really fun so I plan to do it again soon. Besides, I've got 15 lbs of clay to play with.
If you try this, BE SAFE. Two of the pots exploded- not a project for kids without close adult supervision, and safe practices- protective clothing, face gear, tongs, gloves- you get the picture.
My initial feelings after reading a few articles and having a few failures was that moisture was my enemy. That seems to be only part of the issue. Thermal shock also matters big time. The 2 pots that survived had alot of sand in the clay- some of which came from the ground already in the clay, some of which I added to one of the pots. Too much sand and the clay is "short" or cracks easily as you work it. The pots that made it were kind of cracky, but I could still throw the clay on the wheel. I will add ball clay to my next batch (to make it more plastic) and see what happens.
Another thing I learned was to be patient in preheating the pots. I did kind of just put a couple right into the coals, and they blew up within 5 minutes. So, the others were put along the side of the fire and gradually moved in over probably an hour to 90 minutes time. So, I guess patience is my and learn.
Here's a link to a slideshow with more pics and notes on the process:

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