Recently we have been developing a traveling workshop..where we go to you, and work with you to build an above ground pit. We first had to figure out how to do this because the soil here in Door County is mostly rocks with some dirt thrown in; in other words, not much top soil here. We could blast but that seemed extreme, though interesting. (A little northern Door history: many times orchard farmers would have to blast a hole to plant their apple and cherry trees, so it’s not as far fetched as you might think.)
So we experimented with the size of the pit and the gaps between bricks. It took maybe a dozen firings before we were reasonably satisfied with our results. In addition, we were also working out surface treatments. Our goal was more color, though we appreciated the carbon black we got, we wanted more. Greedy, for sure. Good motivator.
Anyway, by the time September came around, we felt like he kinda knew what we were doing, so the whole process from the first class idea to the actual first workshop was only 9 months.
Recipes will be next.
Pit Fire Building Workshop:
We will build an above ground pit.
Each participant brings their own bisqued pottery or we provide it for participants for a small fee
Treat the pots
Load the pit with wood, pots, cover it and begin the firing
Pots are cool in the morning.
List of materials needed to build the pit
Soft or fire bricks (insulation)
200 to build a 30x30x60
List of materials and equipment host should have on hand for the pit firing
Slab wood ¾”x6”x24” pine
If the poplar is cut now it would be dry enough to use by the workshop..good for kindling…
Kindling, scraps etc
Brushes to apply terra sigillatta
Pit cover or lid
6 55 gallon drum lids (or something suitable to act as a lid or ‘door’
steel pipe—6 ft
brushes for poly ( 1” and 1 ½” )
buckets and scrubbies for cleaning pots of ashes
Dried organic materials: dried banana peels, dried coffee grounds, pine cones, dried seaweed students can bring some from their yard etc. (Dry!)
List of materials EBP can provide for the pit firing
Terra sigilllatta 2: red art and old mine #4
Plant food 2: miracle grow and folletts watch us grow
Salts: sea and table
Minerals: copper carb, cobalt carb, iron oxide
Glazes: gerstley borate, raku glazes
Pet food (cheap)
Water softener salt
Coarse sea salt
Water based poly
Pit fire book with recipes
Materials cost per student: $10
Description of One Day Pit Fire Building Workshop: “The Mystery of the Flame: Exploring the Random Effects of Fire on Clay. Build an above ground ‘pit’ and then, after treating your pottery using common and uncommon surface treatments load and fire the pit. All levels. $100.00 per participant providing his or her own pots. Add $10 if we provide the pots.
Finally, we will have a handout (small booklet) which will include the recipes for the surface treatments, plans for building this pit and others, a resource list and links to sites on the internet and many blank pages for the student to make notes.