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Glen Peters

Brick for pit fire

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Hello

 

I was watching a CAD video on pitfiring with Sumi von Dassow and wondered about the brick she lined the pit with, it looks like ordinary brick as opposed to refractory brick?

 

My question --can I use regular brick or even concrete block to line a pit! and while I'm at it can I build a raised (pit) or kilm with either of those materials?

 

Thanks

Glen

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depending on the size, you could just go with chimney liners. you might be able to get by using one or 2.

For a pit above ground regular house bricks can work because the pit does not get that hot. Cinder blocks, I don't know, they can absorb a lot of moisture. But they might work. Maybe someone else has advice on that one.

 

 

Marcia

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Most of Sumi's pit is just dirt, but the rim is lined with regular red garden brick, and that pit is known throughout colorado for yeilding the most beutiful pots of any other. If you are considering pit firing Sumi is who you want advice from.

 

 

 

Darrel

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Just so happens I was speaking to a guy yesterday about his pit firings, he makes roman oil burners and pit fires them. He said that he bisques all his work as it prevents so many losses in the firing. You do not have to bisque but you may end up loosing 50% of your work.

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Just so happens I was speaking to a guy yesterday about his pit firings, he makes roman oil burners and pit fires them. He said that he bisques all his work as it prevents so many losses in the firing. You do not have to bisque but you may end up loosing 50% of your work.

 

I have usually done dirt pits when available. I dig them with a ledge for a grill over the coals. Pile over with sawdust and dried cow pies and wait til the flame burns through in a few hours.

 

Marcia

 

 

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I did a couple pit firings a few years back, because I was interested in the process. The first time, I did not bisque the pieces prior, and lost pretty much everything. I had even worked sawdust into the clay, as that was recommended, for pieces not bisqued. From what I discovered after, I should have built a fire in the pit ahead of time, to dry the ground out. It was the moisture in the ground, that led to so much loss......From what I was told anyway.

 

The second firing, I did bisque the pieces first. The way I set up my pit; It was just and unlined hole, a layer of sawdust on the bottom, with the wares set on top, then more saw dust, then small stick and twigs, then progressively larger pieces. I also had some copper pipes thrown in there for color effects. There are also types of plant food and/ or weed killer that give some nice color flashes, but I don't recall, exactly which.

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Benzine

 

Thanks for your comments

 

I know of two sources of metal in fertilizer (that I used for coloring concrete) Iron sulphate and copper sulphide (?) I get them at local farm supply I cant wait to see what they do on pit or raku etc fired clay!

 

Thanks again

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the brick on the side is only to make the side walls not fall into the work as it fires, the entire ground is refractory and as the brick is only a structural support, little is needed in the way of heat loss prevention. If your pit has a lot of clay in the surrounding dirt ... don't really need the bricks. When I would do pit firings at the beach, I would just use some ratty kiln shelves and glaze ware discs (you know ... for the glazes you KNOW will run) to line my pits. Now with the amount of time it takes to prep and fire a pit firing ... i would much rather just make a makeshift wood kiln and fire it with partial salt and do more with less work but if I were in a more rural area ... i would definitely fire pit style again.

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the brick on the side is only to make the side walls not fall into the work as it fires, the entire ground is refractory and as the brick is only a structural support, little is needed in the way of heat loss prevention. If your pit has a lot of clay in the surrounding dirt ... don't really need the bricks. When I would do pit firings at the beach, I would just use some ratty kiln shelves and glaze ware discs (you know ... for the glazes you KNOW will run) to line my pits. Now with the amount of time it takes to prep and fire a pit firing ... i would much rather just make a makeshift wood kiln and fire it with partial salt and do more with less work but if I were in a more rural area ... i would definitely fire pit style again.

 

Thanks AtomicAxe

 

I'm all by myself here in southern New Brunswick. I've already picked out the location (I think?) for the pit, not setting the woods on fire is a big concern...

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We don't line our pit, only using the earth around it to insulate the firing. We have on used concrete block to add depth, but have found they usually crack,break, explode if they get too hot. We always bisque first, we haul everything 30 miles to fire in the middle of a pasture. Sumi does a great job and I believe she just uses regular brick, looks like the ones from an old chimney (reclaimed). I would avoid landscape bricks as they also will have a tendency to break/explode in the firing. best of luck.

 

Chad

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My husband's Native American tribe has a several thousand year-old unbroken tradition of pit fired pottery, and they just dig a shallow ditch or even "burn" their pots on the ground in a bed of hot coals left over from a fire built before the pots are added. Their concession to modernity has been to pre-heat the pots in an electric oven before putting them in the coals. (They used to set them near the "pre" fire, then slowly move them in closer & closer as they warmed up.) Out of curiosity, I persuaded my husband to bisque to 06 a pot he'd made from hand-dug and hand-processed clay (instead of using the oven to warm the pot to 500 degrees), and he found that the pot didn't absorb much carbon. Instead of rich blacks, he got dull brownish-greys. So if you do bisque, don't bisque that high. This has been discussed in the forum before, with potters recommending bisquing to as low as 019.

 

And regarding fear of the fire getting out of control: it's a VERY well-founded fear. I wish I had $20 for every time my husband's Catawba Indian potter grandmother burned down the field beside her house! I've seen a few of my husband's own fires get out of control, and it is a very scary thing. Fire doesn't just run across the ground, it leaps into nearby trees! I wouldn't consider burning without a hosepipe nearby, and I always clear the ground around the area where we build a pitfire. No grass, no leaves, nothing should be within reach of the flames. And it goes without saying that if there is ANY wind, cancel your plans to burn pots and live to burn another day.

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We don't line our pit, only using the earth around it to insulate the firing. We have on used concrete block to add depth, but have found they usually crack,break, explode if they get too hot. We always bisque first, we haul everything 30 miles to fire in the middle of a pasture. Sumi does a great job and I believe she just uses regular brick, looks like the ones from an old chimney (reclaimed). I would avoid landscape bricks as they also will have a tendency to break/explode in the firing. best of luck.

 

Chad

 

 

Thanks Chad

 

Oddly enough I just drove past a large pile of bricks the other-day, I think they are for the taking? I'll need to spend some time cleaning the mortar off them though...

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My husband's Native American tribe has a several thousand year-old unbroken tradition of pit fired pottery, and they just dig a shallow ditch or even "burn" their pots on the ground in a bed of hot coals left over from a fire built before the pots are added. Their concession to modernity has been to pre-heat the pots in an electric oven before putting them in the coals. (They used to set them near the "pre" fire, then slowly move them in closer & closer as they warmed up.) Out of curiosity, I persuaded my husband to bisque to 06 a pot he'd made from hand-dug and hand-processed clay (instead of using the oven to warm the pot to 500 degrees), and he found that the pot didn't absorb much carbon. Instead of rich blacks, he got dull brownish-greys. So if you do bisque, don't bisque that high. This has been discussed in the forum before, with potters recommending bisquing to as low as 019.

 

And regarding fear of the fire getting out of control: it's a VERY well-founded fear. I wish I had $20 for every time my husband's Catawba Indian potter grandmother burned down the field beside her house! I've seen a few of my husband's own fires get out of control, and it is a very scary thing. Fire doesn't just run across the ground, it leaps into nearby trees! I wouldn't consider burning without a hosepipe nearby, and I always clear the ground around the area where we build a pitfire. No grass, no leaves, nothing should be within reach of the flames. And it goes without saying that if there is ANY wind, cancel your plans to burn pots and live to burn another day. Thanks for the advice. Most of the property here is treed and to make matters worse its at about a 45 degree angle above me! Yikes, perfect opportunity for fire! My neighbour has a wide open flat space, I'll have to ask him...

 

Thanks again

Glen

 

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Some of the most beautiful pots I have seen are finished in an alternative firing. Unfortunately I live in the Los Angeles area where making a fire its a "CRIME"

Even the Pits on the Huntington Beach area are being considered to be banned, Go figure!

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Some of the most beautiful pots I have seen are finished in an alternative firing. Unfortunately I live in the Los Angeles area where making a fire its a "CRIME"

Even the Pits on the Huntington Beach area are being considered to be banned, Go figure!

Yes but beaches in the dry season are serious fire hazards!biggrin.gif I've never been to Huntigton Beach so I'm picturing nothing but sand which is likely wrong?

 

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I can understand while some people refer it to it as people's republic of California/ PRK. I'm an ex-pat to the PRK. I'm sure this ban is the doing of the AQMD (air quality management district). While the la basin definitely has its smog problems, the AQMD rules with and iron fist. I helped open a restaurant and we could not put in a wood burning grill or piazza oven becaus e of rules. We even need some $15K electrostatic filter on the hood exhaust. Comrade, I feel your pain. I suppose your only option is building a pit in a fire prone area, and let the next wildfire handle it. Now they are banning the handful of legal fire pits? Are our kilns safe?

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I can understand while some people refer it to it as people's republic of California/ PRK. I'm an ex-pat to the PRK. I'm sure this ban is the doing of the AQMD (air quality management district). While the la basin definitely has its smog problems, the AQMD rules with and iron fist. I helped open a restaurant and we could not put in a wood burning grill or piazza oven becaus e of rules. We even need some $15K electrostatic filter on the hood exhaust. Comrade, I feel your pain. I suppose your only option is building a pit in a fire prone area, and let the next wildfire handle it. Now they are banning the handful of legal fire pits? Are our kilns safe? Oh yah, no problem with smoke here! The forested slope, I fear is a fire hazard! I watched a few video's recently of rocket stoves and rocket kilns. There is also a (glass) guy somewhere nearby who melts his glass in a rocket kiln. Check that out, they burn very clean! One guy in the far east burns dried rice husks for his entire firing...

 

Glen

 

The PRK, I love it, la basin too!

 

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I can understand while some people refer it to it as people's republic of California/ PRK. I'm an ex-pat to the PRK. I'm sure this ban is the doing of the AQMD (air quality management district). While the la basin definitely has its smog problems, the AQMD rules with and iron fist. I helped open a restaurant and we could not put in a wood burning grill or piazza oven becaus e of rules. We even need some $15K electrostatic filter on the hood exhaust. Comrade, I feel your pain. I suppose your only option is building a pit in a fire prone area, and let the next wildfire handle it. Now they are banning the handful of legal fire pits? Are our kilns safe? Oh yah, no problem with smoke here! The forested slope, I fear is a fire hazard! I watched a few video's recently of rocket stoves and rocket kilns. There is also a (glass) guy somewhere nearby who melts his glass in a rocket kiln. Check that out, they burn very clean! One guy in the far east burns dried rice husks for his entire firing...

 

Glen

 

The PRK, I love it, la basin too!

 

 

Oh for godsake get rid of the ###### blue!

 

Jim

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I can understand while some people refer it to it as people's republic of California/ PRK. I'm an ex-pat to the PRK. I'm sure this ban is the doing of the AQMD (air quality management district). While the la basin definitely has its smog problems, the AQMD rules with and iron fist. I helped open a restaurant and we could not put in a wood burning grill or piazza oven becaus e of rules. We even need some $15K electrostatic filter on the hood exhaust. Comrade, I feel your pain. I suppose your only option is building a pit in a fire prone area, and let the next wildfire handle it. Now they are banning the handful of legal fire pits? Are our kilns safe? Oh yah, no problem with smoke here! The forested slope, I fear is a fire hazard! I watched a few video's recently of rocket stoves and rocket kilns. There is also a (glass) guy somewhere nearby who melts his glass in a rocket kiln. Check that out, they burn very clean! One guy in the far east burns dried rice husks for his entire firing...

 

Glen

 

The PRK, I love it, la basin too!

 

 

Oh for godsake get rid of the ###### blue!

 

Jim

 

 

Sorry is it that annoying?

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