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kokopelle2012

pots like the greeks!

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Hi. I am new to ceramics, i've thrown for maybe 4 months, and had some of my pots fired for me at the studio i work in. Now with a mounting collection of pots, i'm interested in figuring out the rest of this process. The pots are all small, 3"-8" diameter, 3"-8" tall (1/8'-1/4" thick), so standard window sill dwelling house plant size. My idea is, decorate the pots with a flat black glaze and fire in the most primitive way available in order to maximize the earthiness of the pots without over doing it. I tried to heat some over my wood stove, then put into my wood stove, but although the smoke and heat made for some nice looks, the two pots cracked. The pots that were fired at the studio i'd been using came out harder and shiny-er then what i'm used to seeing terracotta look like. I do not know what cone they were fired too but i'm assuming it was a high cone and that caused the higher luster.

My questions:

For matt black drawings on otherwise unglazed terracotta (think Greek urn) what are my glaze options?

For a more primitive firing technique, such as pit firing, what should i know? Are there different temperatures for different terracotta's from different suppliers?

Can i glaze then fire without a bisk firing?

If i was to buy a used kiln, what tempeture would it need to go too?

In a nut shell, if i was an ancient greek potter, what would my studio look like, from glaze to kiln?

thank you!!

-isaac

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The Greeks were the first to control the atmosphere inside kilns. They did sophisticated firings. You should find a copy of "Understanding Greek Pottery".

The way they achieved the orange and black combinations is believed to be through the reoxidizing process after a heavy reduction. Supposedly they used a course slip and a very fine terra sigilatta. No glaze.

As for your studio , I think it would be located in the Attica neighborhood of Athens.

 

Marcia

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Hi Marcia,

Thanks for the information and book referral. I ordered that book just now and look forward to seeing it for myself.

It sounds like the Greeks might be a little more sophisticated than I intend to be. If I want really rudimentary looking pots, with simple flat black adornment, what would you suggest?

I would love for the firing process to leave a mark, but maybe to complex? What do you know about the firing techniques of the ancient peruvians?

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Hi Marcia,

Thanks for the information and book referral. I ordered that book just now and look forward to seeing it for myself.

It sounds like the Greeks might be a little more sophisticated than I intend to be. If I want really rudimentary looking pots, with simple flat black adornment, what would you suggest?

I would love for the firing process to leave a mark, but maybe to complex? What do you know about the firing techniques of the ancient peruvians?

 

In my gallery under the album, My favorite Potters, there is a Moche Stirrup jar. It is fired in a more oxidized clean burn atmosphere with no fire marks.

 

http://ceramicartsdaily.org/community/index.php?app=gallery&module=images&section=viewimage&img=858

 

Marcia

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Sumi is a great resource.

There are others too. I think your personal preference towards " a primitive" look is not knowledgable of primitive vs. early masters. Some of my favorites are Nubian ceramics from 4500 BC. Fired upside down in sawdust. Gorgeous work.

Marcia

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I wonder if you are using the terms primitive and simple interchangeably when they are not at all the same ... some potter/scholars have spent years trying to recreate primitive methods. Primitive potters were/are skilled artisans who had great responsibilities.

 

If all you want is black designs on an underfired, rough surface, you could achieve that in a pit firing or raku firing by using slips, resists and smoke. You could knead grog into your clay to get a pitted look on the surface. You could roll the leather hard pot in grog or sand that would fall off but leave marks. You could decorate with black slips, engobes, or terra sigillatta. Paul Wandless does print decoration and pit firings in his workshops so keep an eye out for one ... Or Steve Branfman,, Charlie Riggs ... Check out some of the videos available right here on the Ceramic Arts Daily part of the site under firing methods, surface treatments etc.

 

You should have a lot of fun with your project :)

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If you use ordinary Terracotta to fire in your wood stove, you will have a high risk of your pots cracking or exploding, as you did find yourself.

 

Here is a link to primitive firing technique in a barbeque grill:

 

http://ceramicartsda...rilling-season/

 

There are some good tips in the above article:

"use a clay which is resistant to thermal shock such as raku clay, groggy stoneware, or paperclay".

You can buy Terracotta paperclay depending where you live, or you can make your own.

 

Good luck!

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