Hole dug into ground approximately 3’ x 3’ to be used as a firing chamber, sawdust (course and fine), kindling, newspaper, metal rack (for airflow and to help stop work tumbling), straw, split wood, lighter fluid, soft cloth, stiff brush, washing up liquid, water, beeswax. Bisque ware is pre-treated with oxide washes and powders, dry oxides, baking powder, rock salt, filled with , pine needles, copper wire/mesh, same is taped/tied to exterior of pot
Make a 3” bed at base level using sawdust, newspaper and kindling. Place wire rack on top, arrange work carefully or tumble stack bearing in mind the positioning of wares, remembering that work will receive little or no smoke if touching the sides of kiln or too tightly packed. This could be used to decorative advantage though. Continue to pack kiln evenly, laying straw and newspaper around the work as you go with a 3” layer of sawdust on top of each layer (fine sawdust for first layer so that it catches more easily when flames reach it, on top of this add another layer of straw and newspaper, followed by 3” of course sawdust. Continue until all work is completely covered to a depth of 3”. Place a layer of newspaper on top followed by a mound of split wood mixed with kindling to help produce an even burn. Spray lighter fluid on woodpile and let it soak for a few minutes, light in several places around the edges and in the middle. Sometimes under windy conditions the fire will go out and have to be relit several times. If the combustible material burns too quickly continue adding to top of mound, the fire should burn for approximately 1.5 hours but the embers will remain hot for several hours, lay a galvanised sheet on top of pit overnight to aid reduction conditions. After about 30 minutes the wood will be mostly grey with a few flames still present but the embers will continue to burn their way through to the bottom layer. The fire will reach temperatures between 600’c – 800’c. Care should be taken when unpacking, as the embers will still be hot so important to douse with water to be safe. Cleaning will accentuate any marks from the smoke and flames. Brush any residue off, rinse in soapy water, leave to dry, buff up with beeswax to add depth.
*Extra tips – Burnish the surface of work, add oxide washes, sprinkle each layer with black, red iron oxide, copper carbonate, rock salt, baking powder, wrap copper wire, banana skins or mesh around pots to create vapourisation fuming and linear marks.
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