Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Firing

Some of our work, cleaned up and waxed
Once again our dear friend Rose opened her home and her studio for a barrel firing. For our third firing, our little group welcomed Lee, another alternative firing enthusiast (and my regular Raku partner!). Lee was a well of information, gladly sharing her prepping tips, notably her recipe for her "no fuss terra sigillata". Under her direction, Rose, Myra, and Nancy chose the "baked potato" technique where pots are treated with copper sulfate and ferric chloride and wrapped up in aluminum foil with organic materials. The results are typically variations of light pink to orange to reds. I opted for newspaper wrapping, salt, copper sulfate/carbonate, and iron oxide treatment.
Watching us on that warm saturday afternoon, you'd think we were all old pros. Wood was separated in neat piles by sizes, along with pine needles and chemicals. Wares were all prepped in two hours. Loading barely took 30 minutes, alternating between kindling, pine needles, wares, and chemicals (iron oxide, copper carbonate, and salt). Firing was textbook, feeding it for an hour and a half, reaching 1500F at the top of the firing. We even managed to squeeze a refreshing swim in Rose's swimming pool.
Getting hypnotized by the dancing flames, while sipping wine or beer under the stars, was the highlight of my day. Orange, blue, green. The chemicals were working their magic. Until the fire died and hot coals covered our pots. Once the coals were a bit cooler, wet pine needles were poured on top followed by sawdust for a heavy reduction and slow cooling overnight. Probably the secret for some of the deep reds we get on our wares. Or was it the cheetos offerings Lee left for the kiln gods ???

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