Painting with Fire

LESSONS IN PIT FIRING

 

How to Burnish

Pictures 4/18/09 (in process)    try Flickr  try Picasa

 

 http://hhh.gavilan.edu/kgonzales/documents/PaintingWithFireLecture_000.pdf

If you don't have room at home, the beach is an excellent alternative. I encourage you to go on a nice day and to go early -- conditions are more condusive to success.

TO SUMMARIZE:

1)  Place cardboard down first if soil is damp.

2)  Place layer of sawdust down -- 4 to 8 inch. depends on how much sawdust you have and how much black that you want. The direction of the pot depends on where you want the black.

3)  Put copper and salt around your pot (KC), put lots of salt in the sawdust and a little copper around your pots (Sylvia). Add copper/salt burritos between pots. Add interesting combustibles.

4)  Put 1 layer of cowpies. (Not absolutely necessary)

5)  Put a layer of paper balls then a layer of wood . (Not so necessary at beach, if you have a good teepee.) Do this two or three times til the pots are covered. You want enough wood to sustain a fire for about an hour. Add kindling then light. In a large pit, start at the end that you want to unload first. Do not light in different locations, let the fire creep from one end of the pit to the other -- or from the top of the teepee to the bottom.

6) Allow your pots to cool the same amount or longer as the heating process.

7) When unloading, stack in a area that got hot from the fire so it does not crack. Try to be patient.

If you were not gifted with a great pot I can only say -- "refire!". It's best not to high fire it since the flux could cause disasterous running. You can raku it or simply redo a pit. For some you may say enough is enough, this is not for me and I say good for you to recognize what is important for you. Good for you to have experimented and tried something risky. Some people really enjoy the risk factor and a process that does not have predictable outcomes. Sometimes one doesn't enjoy the process so much as you know it is ideal for the look or the aesthetics of the work. Practice and experimentation usually helps these individuals streamline the process so it isn't so "painful".

Many of you did some interesting experiments. I hope you kept a  journal and that you continue to try new things and expand your knowledge of the ceramic process. 

 

 

 

LAST PITFIRE BISQUE IS Monday, April 13, 2009.

YOU MUST HAVE YOUR POTS IN THE KILN BY THE END OF THE EVENING CLASS. IT WILL BE PREHEATED ON MONDAY AND FIRED OFF ON TUESDAY.

 

POTS:

CHANGE OF PLANS:  Sylvia has asked us not to use pre-packed boxes. If your box is packed already, bring it as is, but be prepared to remove it from the box(s). This is to ensure more pots can be placed in primo location (middle).

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING YOUR POTS TO THE PITFIRE.  LOOK FOR YOUR POTS ON THE BLACK SHELF IN THE KILN ROOM.

FOOD:

This is a potluck, please bring a dish to share with the group. You may want to carry your own water. After lighting  off, we will hang and eat until the fire has died down.

CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES:

Cotton clothing – jeans, long shirt/hoodie protect yourself from the heat.

Sun screen, chap stick,hat – in case it gets sunny

Shoes—boots/closed shoes—something you wouldn’t mind getting trashed

Camera/battery charged/film-media empty – you’ll want to document your process.

                          KC would love to see before and after pics!

COMBUSTIBLES

Wood – enough to cover your pot(s) 3 times.

Sawdust – the finer the blacker

Weird Stuff – dried fruit peel, leaves (bay/eucalyptus), rice straw, cow pies (whole )…

Seaweed  

PIT FIRE FINAL

APRIL 18, 2009

8am – 5 pm (whenever it’s done)

LOCATION: Sylvia Rios’ House

810 Cole Road, Aromas

 

 

Directions from Northridge Mall (about 15 miles/20min)

 

Head north on US101 past Prunedale. About 12miles/18 mins.

 

Just past the Big Red Barn, first left at the rocks.

 

Cross Hiway101 to Cole Road.

 

Destination wil be on the left, about .7miles/2 mins.

 

 

 

It will be a great weekend for the beach, but lets spend it in the studio and use our time efficiently. Bring wood, sawdust, cow pies, etc. we can fire at Hartnell.

New times for class: Friday -- 3/27 - 4-6:50pm  Saturday -- 9am-3:50pm

DAY 5: 3/27/09 PIT FIRE PREPARTIONS A VISUAL JOURNAL Don't forget your camera.

DAY 4: 3/14/09 Weather permiting beach firing. Wind or rain cancels beach meet at studio. Check here for update or call KC at 831-917-0477.

DAY 3: 3/13/09 Lecture how to pack for the beach, continue studio projects

3/1/09   Friday studio times extended.

Sylvia informed me that the Friday hours are wrong as posted in the syllabus. The hours for Friday will be 4pm - 8pm. The missing two hours will be made up as follows: 30 minutes on 3/13/09 until 8:30pm,  1 hour on 3/28 and 30 minutes earlier on 4/18. Please pass this information on to others.

If you want to fire something at the beach firing, you need to get it bisqued. Please put it on the pit fire cart by Wednesday noon. It would help if you identified it as "to be pit fire bisqued". It will be fired on Thursday and ready to take on Friday.

3/8/09 Treasure Hunt

The search for combustibles for the beach fire is on. You should be collecting materials for Saturday. The weather appears to be dry. The only thing that might cancel is wind. I will post here by 7:30am on Saturday. I have a pile of sea weed. We could use some dry sawdust. If you can get fine hardwood dust, you will get blacker blacks. If you want to "test" some different combustibles try to get at least five tiles done. Special flavors--banana, orange, bay leaf, grape crush (yummo!), peanut shells.

 

DAY 2: 2/28/09 Lecture. General theories. Pot luck, bring food to share. Finish up projects and leave on pit fire shelf. For next time: Search for combustibles. Finish projects at home or studio, leave on pit fire shelf to be bisqued. There are some interesting videos at the end of the lecture, check them out or search pitfire on Youtube.

DAY 1: 2/27/09 Introduction. Pick a project -- carve a bead, pinch a hollow form  (some possibilities--bird, egg, gourd/pumpkin, totem/animal), throw a bottle form. Group project -- "One for All"  Cut 25 tiles 3x3x1/4", use a stamp to personalize. Make a box to hold for bisqueing. Use the tiles to test different techniques such as "green firing", test a combustible, clay resist... Later we will exchange tiles with each other and assemble one to donate to the auction. For next time: Bring lunch. Search for burnishing tools, bring sanding material.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes referred to as primative firing, pit fire is actually a sophisticated juggling act between the elements and the artist's decisions. When the right form, fire, weather, stack, and oxides come together, magic happens. Predictable outcomes are impossible to predict but with practice and intuition, acceptable and exceptional results will happen. As with all magic, there is a certain amount of superstitious behavior when certain procedures work out. It's been my experience that beginners with few expectations and little experience often have fabulous results.

 

WHAT SHOULD I MAKE?

Although anything can be pit fired, if the object is to maximize the affects of the fire then certain shapes are more successful than others. Closed round shapes seem to be ideal if you want to paint with fire. History bears out that round forms survive better in the ravages of the rapid firing of a pit fire. Closed forms provide the maximum surface on which to paint. Animal figures also seem to work well, especially when combined with a closed vessel form.

Bowls are ok, but you can only see one side at a time. Often the side you weren't trying to decorate is the side that is blessed by the fire.  Plates have the same problem with the added problem that they often crack or break. Plates tend to prefer slow drying, slow firing. Small tiles and shards on the other hand tend to survive quite nicely. The bits can be assembled to create an object after the firing or used in a multi-media piece.

WHAT CLAY SHOULD I USE?

If you bisque, you can use any type of clay.