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lorielle

Do You Enjoy Alternative Firing? | October 23, 2013

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

Geez, Lori,

I just got back from the PC Alternative firing conference and it was a blast! Foil firing with Ken Turner, pit firing with a mother of a manifold and blower system with Sumi von Dassow, and I fired horse hair and obvara firing.

 

Why do I like alternative firing...

First, I like using less energy which reflects my carbon footprint.

Second, I do not make a living from pottery. I like to explore the potential of clay as a fine art expression. The happenstance of alternative firing is satisfying to me.

Third, I think alternative firings are a great teaching tool.Clay gives people the chance to play without serious repercussions. I had a doctor as a student a few years ago who said he made life and death decisions all the time. In ceramics there was no huge repercussions from those decision in clay.

I think it is a great stress reliever for many working in clay including HS students.

Marcia

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Biglou13    202

Since majority of pottery these days is electric. While not a new technique, Wood fired in this day and age is alternative.

 

Here is a platter. detail from a vase. Detail from a bowl. Detail of guinomi. Same firing. Different part of kiln different clays.

 

I made the clay for guinomi, altered the other clays, adding granite, and or other grit. Fired for three days mostly pine. I'm amazed by the spectrum of effects the come from woodfired pottery. pictures do little justice to the color and tactile sensation..post-25544-0-06245400-1382566687_thumb.jpgpost-25544-0-89621200-1382566782_thumb.jpgpost-25544-0-45541000-1382567070_thumb.jpg

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I like alternative firing because it is so special and not many people are doing it (at least here in Switzerland and also in Italy, as far as I know). Burning the objects in the great outdoors, being in the nature while firing the pit for hours, is relaxing and peaceful. I also like the unpredictability of the patterns from smoke and salts and many more different factors. I do mostly pit and barrel firings. Wood, wood shavings, sawdust, pine needles,olive kernels, acorns and dung are my prefered fillings for barrel and/or pit firing. Some objects I leave in the pit for 24 hours to cool down, some I take out aglow and put buffalo or horse hair on them.On a firing day I'am perfectly happy! Oh, and next year I'll definitely try Obvara!

 

Evelyne

 

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Nearly all our work is considered to be "alternative", due to the numerous stoneware potters in our area we decided to drop the glaze and have fun without glazes.  Started with pits, then aluminum foil saggars, then other saggars and various other offshoots and now most recently Obvara.  Using these processes gives me more opportunity to discuss pottery during shows than if it was stoneware.  Here is some of our work....From left to right: Aluminum Foil Saggar, Paper Saggar, Pit Fired, Obvara, and our "fire pit".

 

Thanks, Chad

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

Beautiful surfaces, Up in Smoke. I am getting ready for another round of firings. Studio is full. And I need to ship more pieces.I find Alternative firings inspiring after 45+ years in ceramics firing everything from ^10 reduction, salt, soda, ^6 reduction, ^6 electric. I have more fun with raku, foil saggars and clay saggars and now obvara.It is fascinating. These are from this fall. The left one is foil saggar and is actually a large pot. The center one is Obvara with the "eye" pattern. I traded this one and never got a decent photo of it.The third is clay saggar pot.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

That sounds great! Congratulations on being in this book. Thanks for the notice on a new book Pit Firing Ceramics: Modern Methods, Ancient Traditions. . I have been doing saggar and horse hair for 20+ years or so.I have been doing pit firing for 35 years and raku for 46.I am really enjoying learning all these new ideas and developing my own ways of working out surfaces. I shipped some off to a gallery yesterday. Will be delivering some to Houston this weekend and then I need to get more firing done today and tomorrow before I go. It is really exciting because the results are somewhat expected but the individual pots can have beautiful idiosyncratic beauty marks.

I will look for that book. Thanks again.

 

Marcia

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Chad: thank you for sharing the book tip with us. I just ordered it. Your pots are beautiful! Hmmmm what is the difference between pit fire and "our fire pit"? Just curious...

 

Marcia: I love your pots. Marvelous! Regarding the Obvara with the "eye" pattern: the white eye seems so shiny and as if a glaze was applied, but I know it can't be. How did you get such a smooth surface on the eye part? And another question, about the clay saggar pot: what are the black streaks please?

 

Thanks.

 

Evelyne

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

It goes on a smooth polished pot with terra sig.Afterwards it is polished with wax to protect the surface. The black streaks are from copper wire. I use recycled copper or scraps from electricians.

Marcia

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I love alternative firing for the different and unique results (the christmas morning effect). When I was doing a lot of glaze work I always looked for glazes that weren't monochromatic. I wanted variation over the piece. Saggar firing (both clay saggars and foil) gave me that which I was looking for. My wife and I open the saggar and put it on our outdoor table and walk around it multiple times finding something new with each pass. I don't get that with the glazes I use. I am now working on achieving new colors with the ferric chloride. 
 

Horsehair is fun because it is so interactive. We generally do a firing when folks are over for thanksgiving. A little direction and you will find your family members love it. The tricky part is keeping them from throwing a handful of sugar at the pot.

The other element of doing alternative firings is when you start the firing process, you open a beer. You gotta like that.

Marc McMillan

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Evelyne...Thank you for the complement.  Its a name we use to differentiate the slightly different methods.  "Pit Fires" we do in a large open bonfire, typically 60-90 pieces at a time, more of a traditional approach.  The "Fire Pits"  are done in small batches in a backyard fire pit, using more colorants at a lower temperature, also a little faster.  Started as a test due to the drought conditions we experienced last year, I wasn't comfortable light the big bonfires in the middle of the prairie. :unsure:

 

Marc, very nice vessels.  have you ever tried other additives besides sugar?

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Up in Smoke,

I am experimenting fuming miracle grow with Ferric Chloride. The colors have been interesting. I get bright oranges and have even seen lavenders.

I don't put the Miracle grow directly on the pot, but in a foil packet inside the vessel. It works better with non-lidded pieces as you get the fumes farther down on the piece.

 

Anyone have other elements we can try?

Marc

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I got some algae food I plan to try in January. I have to go back and check the chemical content. I don't remember at the moment but it sounded like it had potential.I'll try that Miracle grow idea too. I got one specifically for acid needy plants.

Marcia

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