Bananas & Barrel
is sawdust firing? It's a low
temperature firing of pots and sawdust to get black and gray carbonization patterns
burnt into your pots.
ware from most low-fire alternative or primitive firings
is non-functional, that is, the clay is semi-porous
and weaker than fully vitrified stoneware.
Why do we do it? Because it's gorgeous.
is it done? In this case pots are pre-bisqued and dipped in a
to semi-resist the smoke, and are then layered in a special barrel
with sawdust. ("Special" means "cheap"). The sawdust is lit
from the top with some newspapers and a lighter. Once it is
burning away nicely, the barrel is covered and left to smolder for the
rest of the day and night.
And there it is: A big smoking barrel in the back yard.
a brilliant display of pyrotechnics... this elaborate setup will send
little wisps of smoke out teeny holes for over twelve hours.
Before smoking, boneware pots are burnished with terra sigillata and bisque-fired.
the morning of firing, the pots are dipped in goo and dried for a
couple of hours. Some get plant leaves before dipping for an
additional carbonization effect.
the slip dries, the next very important step is to prepare bananas for
roasting. We are very green at ESP. The bananas are yellow.
And then the pot lasagna begins with a three to four inch layer of sawdust and the first layer of pots.
In-between each layer is a piece of chicken wire to keep the pots from falling on each other as the sawdust burns away.
And last, but by no means least, the 4th layer of... bananas! And some newspapers to ignite the sawdust.
And... this is what it does until the next morning when the cover is pulled. But in the meantime...
the sawdust burns down and the next day, like Christmas morning (coal
is good!) we get to pluck the crusty beauties out.
Next we give them all a good scrub to get the crust (ashes and remains of fireclay slip) off.
After drying, vases are sealed to be water-tight.
White terra sigillata over white stoneware
White terra sig over white stoneware
Green terra sig over white stoneware
Oxalis (shamrock) leaves on unsig'd stoneware
White terra sig over white stoneware. The browns (and some mysterious streaks of green) are all from the firing.
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