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Firepit Fired Pottery


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Hi there,

I would like to make some bowls and oven pots made with wild harvested clay and put them in the firepit. When they are finished firing, are they called bisque ware or earthen ware? And can I use the oven pots to cook casseroles in my home oven? And what should I seal them with? I dont have a kiln so Im doing all my work outside in the fire pit.

 

Thank you!

Catherine

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 welcome to the forum.     how will you get them hot enough to change from clay to pottery?   this is a really difficult thing to do, lots of research and testing is involved.   i do not know anyone who has done this beyond  the great american indians who have made wonderful things for centuries.  maybe you can find a video of one of the most famous, Maria Martinez and her son.

  we do have a member in the southeast US who does something similar, perhaps she will reply.

you might look at your local library for books discussing making pottery so you have the vocabulary to discuss the processes involved.

Edited by oldlady
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@cafedunier, Welcome to the forum. What you are describing is a long arduous process. Firstly is the harvesting of the clay, and testing to see if it has the possibility of being vitrified. This will probably take tests to fire it in the pit firing and to discover if there are possible fluxes or additives that would be used to make it more acceptable. These pieces are usually one fired, with not pre-fired bisque. As to whether you can use them for cooking in you oven, that to would involve testing. I do know that some folks have used low fired bodies for bakeware, that are often seasoned by the cooking, and some that are soaked in water for cooking with a steam type process. However, it requires time, patience and dedication to accomplish what you ask.

 

best of luck on your journey,

Pres

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I agree with Oldlady and Pres, the concept is simple and (maybe) doable, but you have a lot of learning to do and it will take determination. Simple and easy are not the same thing. 

1. Find out about your local clay. Talk to potters or ceramics teachers in your area. Clay deposits are highly variable. There may be more than one kind of clay near you. Some kinds can get strong in the lower temperature ranges, others will remain fragile

2. Consider how hot you can get your firepit. The pots have to get at least glowing red hot through and through. Cherry red is not hot enough. That’s not as easy as it sounds with an open fire. 

3. If you want to cook with it that’s another research project. Most earthenware cooking pots through history and around the world are not “sealed” with anything. There’s nothing you can put on it that won’t affect the food. Glaze is another ball game, you’ll need a kiln for that. 

Again, as Oldlady said, check out Maria Martinez and other pueblo potters. Keep doing research, fill up your brain before you start. Prepare to learn from your mistakes and keep trying. 

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CATHERINE,   GOOD NEWS!  i just found a youtube video about pitfiring.  there are several men doing it and one is andy ward ancient pottery.  several others.  they all show how to process raw clay.   have fun!

Edited by oldlady
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3 hours ago, oldlady said:

CATHERINE,   GOOD NEWS!  i just found a youtube video about pitfiring.  there are several men doing it and one is andy ward ancient pottery.  several others.  they all show how to process raw clay.   have fun!

Do you have a title or link?

Clay has to endure thermal shocks so hopefully uour clay is suitable.

Lots of fun ahead!

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Before you go to the trouble of processing your own clay I would buy some low fire Raku clay and try pit firing it.  Maria's black ware is  a secret formula that is made from clay's dug and mixed from their property and fired with cow dung.   The clay you use and how you fire it is very important.   The Anazai made lots of pottery because it wasn't quite vitrified and food poisoning was a problem after the dishes were used.   They would break or punch a hole in them to release the evil spirit,  archaeologist are still debating this theory.    Denice

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On 9/21/2022 at 2:06 AM, Denice said:

Before you go to the trouble of processing your own clay I would buy some low fire Raku clay and try pit firing it.  Maria's black ware is  a secret formula that is made from clay's dug and mixed from their property and fired with cow dung.   The clay you use and how you fire it is very important.   The Anazai made lots of pottery because it wasn't quite vitrified and food poisoning was a problem after the dishes were used.   They would break or punch a hole in them to release the evil spirit,  archaeologist are still debating this theory.    Denice

And Maria's wasn't fired in a pit per say but above ground with dung piled around. The clay used is key.

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I forgot about it the pots being carefully stacked and pieces of metal were placed carefully to protect the pottery before the dung was used.   In our Anazai research class they dug a long trench and filled the trench with broken pallets.    They came out a nice black and white, 80 percent were broken into a million pieces,   I had a dozen pots in the firing most of them very large and only had a break in one handle.  The pieces were so underfired that I refired mine to cone 04,  I under stood  how  you make strong coiled pots.   Denice

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