Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On The Road To Barrel Firing

Yes! We're on the road to my first barrel firing. Last week John and I picked up a 55 gallon drum from the dump and this day John is drilling holes into the barrel to help air flow during the firing process. The holes were 1/4 inch in diameter and were drilled about 3 inches apart on each 3rd of the barrel. The drilling was easy and it took no time at all to punch through this old drum.
Ok, so what the heck is barrel firing--
Barrel firing is a modern day take-off of a primitive firing technique known as pit firing, which is the oldest known method of firing pottery. Basically, bisqued pots are nestled together in a layer of saw dust in the bottom of the 55 gallon drum and covered with dried organic materials such as wood and cow pies. What? Cow Pies? Well, Im not exactly sure about this but I believe cow pies were used because dried manure was a readily available source of fuel. Also I've read that the cow pies tend to burn real hot. I'll address the fuel more in-depth when we get to the firing part.
Anyway, Interspersed between the layers of wood and cow pies, copper carbonate, salt, plant fertilizer and even strange items such as bannana peels and chicken bones are added to produce flashes of colors during the firing process. These colors can range from pinks to reds, yellow and even brilliant blacks.
Firing in the barrel is the simple part, but breakage is high and getting the beautiful colors is the trick. Stay tuned. More to come.