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Homestead scale pottery manufacture...  RSS feed

 
Michael Cox
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In all the time I've been reading these forums I don't think there has been a mention of pottery making as a part of the toolset for making a homestead. I was mulling on this after watching a really good series on the BBC

Secrets of the Castle - building a 14th C castle from scratch using original tools and techniques.

They have various fired clay aspects including pot making and firing for clay floor tiles, all using locally found clay and 'primitive' techniques. In one batch they fire around 14000 clay floor tiles in a wood fired earthen kiln!

I'm no expert on clay or potting, but I bet there is a comparatively simple skill-set/tool-set that people could use in a homestead setting to fulfil some basic needs; fermentation vessels for sauerkraut, vessels for cooking with, preservation of summer surplus... Visualise a cellar packed with home fired clay vessels full of yummy goodies... They don't need to be pretty, just sturdy and serviceable.

What about oversize planters to contain herbs like mint that you need but don't want running everywhere? Individual plant protectors - open tubes that you can pop around young plants to protect them from frost, birds etc...?

mother earth news pottery

Collecting and processing clay

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mv-6zvI3r4c

A couple of videos of forming pots by hand, firing in a simple brick and sawdust kiln. (Struggled to get playable video links on my iPad- sorry!)

http://youtu.be/MKVtuAGrtR4

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sTC3nbqepHY
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Michael,

Thanks for posting all of this...I had seen the piece on the castle...excellent stuff their!

There has been (not enough) discussion about ceramics. I have a limited ceramics background (limited compared to my mother and friends) but I really love it. You are most correct, ceramics and understanding how they are made has so much cross over into other permaculture related subjects, from wood burning kilns, to how to form cobb...

Thanks Again,

j
 
Mike Cantrell
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Michael Cox wrote:
I'm no expert on clay or potting, but I bet there is a comparatively simple skill-set/tool-set that people could use in a homestead setting to fulfil some basic needs; fermentation vessels for sauerkraut, vessels for cooking with, preservation of summer surplus...


Don't forget, clay ROOF tiles. In my opinion, there is a real gap in the natural building world regarding roofs.

There are lots and lots of wall systems that are durable, affordable, and achievable by owner-builders. (While being ecologically gentle, obviously.) Why aren't there an equally abundant selection of roof systems? Why aren't there lots of durable, affordable, achievable roof systems?


  • There are green/living/turf roofs, but you've got to be willing to completely give up a "normal" appearance. Plus they're rather heavy, and so make some serious demands on your structure.
  • There are shake roofs, and conceivably you could split your own, but in a lot of parts of the country (and the world), finding appropriate trees to fell, buck, and split is a tall order, IF you've even got an appropriate species.
  • On my own home, I installed a metal roof, which was achievable and durable, but not affordable. It's arguably ecological- I say it IS, because metal is one of very few indefinitely maintainable roof systems. You can keep on recoating it basically forever, making it superior to alternatives that require disposal and replacement.


  • Asphalt shingles are a damn pox, and I don't feel like I need to elaborate.


  • Slate roofs are durable and ecologically gentle, but absolutely not affordable, and only arguably achievable by a DIYer on the first try. Like green roofs, they're super heavy and can't be retrofit onto just any structure you want.




  • So homemade clay roof tiles? Oh my, what a blessing! Eminently durable and ecological. If you dug it yourself, extremely affordable. Achievable? It's tricky, definitely not just a piece of cake, but I'd say absolutely worth the trouble to learn. No harder than rocket stoves or swales. Could be wonderful.

    Thanks for the links; I'm off to get educated!

    Edit: Forgot thatch. Affordable, ecological, and fairly durable, but I hear it takes a whole lot of experience to do correctly. So achievable, no.
     
    Jay Grace
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    My gf is in the process of setting up her pottery studio again for the sole reason to make fermentation crocks.

    She or I will be posting some of her stuff hopefully after the first of the year.
     
    jimmy gallop
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    little off subject but not
    I was thinking of doing a 55 barrel bio-char and coating some of the wood with clay to ad pottery to the soil with the bio-char
    and also use the heat from making the bio-char to do some pottery like you are talking about
    maybe build a kiln that would utilize both.
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Pegged Roof Tiles

    I am very pleased to see the enthusiasm about ceramics. There are indeed countless uses for these many things just made of clay...many...superior to what we have regrettably evolved into...Especially in the realm of roofing materials.

    Stone and clay roofs are ageless, some still in service after 800 years! From the Europe to Japan clay tiles fitted with nothing more than cobb and maybe some lime and pegs will render a structure dry. The above underlined link is just the tip of a very large mountain of information and modalities to consider.
     
    Michael Cox
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    Here is a good video on tile and brick making... Looks pretty quick and efficient with some infrastructure setup.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t5CYHo5VyyM
     
    Michael Cox
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    More on processing found clay.

    This looks like overkill for bricks and tiles, but could be useful for finer pottery...



     
    Judith Browning
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    Michael, I've added this to more forums. Check out the 'similar threads' at the bottom of the page also........I bumped up a couple of those.
    Great thread, I love reading more craft discussion ...glad you started it
     
    Bill Bradbury
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    I am fortunate in that I have been trained by a traditional Jicarilla Apache potter that insisted that I learn to throw a pot before we could proceed with the plastering of his bed and breakfast. Before I could make a pot, I had to learn the process of collecting clay from the ancestral clay pits. Before I could even approach the clay pit, I had to learn the ceremonies that go with the extraction of our Mother, for all things in nature must be paid for prior to removal.
    I don't have any pictures of processing clay, but I found Felipe's website and it has a couple Owl Peak Pottery
    You can see that first we put the raw clay and rocks into a concrete mixer, then add water and sieve through screens on wooden forms. We plastered his entire place with the same beautiful micaceous clay that he makes his traditional wood fired pottery from.
     
    Peter Ellis
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    Some considerations regarding tile roofing. Like slate, it will wind up being heavy. It will wind up with substantial embodied energy, because firing hundreds and hundreds of tiles requires quite a bit of energy. It is not easy to mount those tiles on a roof and they are relatively heavy to handle and delicate.

    Processing the clay is important, whether you are making vessels or roofing tiles, because one of the major reasons for processing the clay is to make sure there is nothing in there that will produce poor results when you fire the pieces. Poor results running from voids that create leaks or weak spots to exploding ceramics that wreck everything in the kiln for that run!

    Not suggesting it is not something to consider doing, just pointing out that it is not an easy approach to making a roof

    And I absolutely agree that the subjects of pottery and ceramics in general do not get as much discussion as they might merit.

    This thread is a bit of a reminder for me, that the wheel my Dad and I built needs to be put back into use, and the kiln made operational again. I have not thrown anything in decades.
     
    Michael Cox
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    Peter - good point about embodied energy. In our case we would probably be looking at wood firing, of which we have plenty, rather than fossil fuels... it would be more of an issue if you were using a gas or an electric kiln.

    My comment about processing being overkill - in the "Secrets of the Castle" program they went from clay in the ground to a tile ready to fire in a couple of hours. They hand worked it, picking out debris - organic matter, lumpy nodules etc... The nodules were various coloured minerals they they then used to make pigments for wall painting.

    In comparison, the video has a process that appears to take a month or so from digging to using, and would be nearly unworkable if you needed to make large scale batches like tiles or bricks.

    I guess a large part of that equation is the quality of the clay you have access to - experiment with it and figure out what works and what corners you can safely cut.
     
    Michael Cox
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    Here is a good series of videos going from dug clay to test firing. The middle video is especially good as he goes through tests that he uses to determine if his found clay is any good.





     
    Dale Hodgins
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    I have some pottery experience. I no longer wish to produce anything particularly beautiful. I prefer to make useful items.

    I like salt glazed stoneware. I will try this, now that I'm in a remote area where the chlorine gas won't bother anybody.
     
    Michael Cox
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    Plans for a homemade 'kick' potters wheel.

    DIY potters wheel

    There are surprisingly few plans for potters wheels available, and for our needs they would likely be too expensive. You could probably build this for about £100, most of which would be spent on the metal shaft and bearings.
     
    Judith Browning
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    I no longer wish to produce anything particularly beautiful. I prefer to make useful items.


    I don't think functionality excludes beauty....most well made functional pieces in any craft are beautiful and even artful...it is just inherent in a well made piece.
     
    leila hamaya
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    ooo i miss throwing pottery and sculpting with clay.
    ceramics was my first real craft, and what i was sure i wanted to do with my life for a good ten years...before moving around a lot and not having access to wheels and kilns, etc....then developing other crafts, and more portable crafts with less overhead.

    but i definitely miss it a lot, the feels of it =) especially...i got really very good at throwing pottery and made a lot of sculptural plant pots, and teapots. worked at a couple of clay co ops, and even did some teaching.
    i made a whole series of sculptures that were naked women (!) for growing trees in them...usually sculpted so that the roots of the plant/tree was in the womb of the sculpted woman. the "mama pots" i called them were really awesome, but it was hard to sell them for as much money as i wanted. eventually i gave away whatever ones i had left.

    i like all the old school making your own type stuff you all are posting about, digging a pit kiln, digging and processing your own clay. when i was in art school studying ceramics i was often pressing my teachers for info on this kind of stuff, and found they had very few answers. most of those people were just working with purchased materials and had little understanding of what would go into starting from scratch with digging your own clay, building your own kiln. i did a lot of experimenting with that sort of stuff my self..not always with great results. i dug three pit kilns...each one better than the last, but never pulled off a successful firing, its actually much trickier than it could seem to get it to work good...all the stuff i tried to fire in my own pit kilns got broken, or not hot enough....
     
    Michael Cox
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    Leila,

    Interesting that you had no luck with primitive firings. Somewhere I read that you should start by learning conventional pot building and firing in a kiln so that you learn to make good pots before you throw primitive firing into the mix, then you know where the errors are.

    Also, I saw a good YouTube video where someone was doing a bonfire firing of a dozen or so pots. He made a ring fire around the outside of the pots adding more sticks gradually to increase the heat really slowly, drying the pieces over a few hours before increasing to firing temperatures by building the fire up much more strongly.
     
    leila hamaya
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    well like i was saying, i had a really good grasp on the skills involved....i was working in a ceramics co op and trying to do it professionally. it was my main study in college. but that was all working with purchased materials and large kilns.

    it is just much harder than it could seem, imo to make a good pit kiln.
    not to say i dont completely believe, but the whole bonfire things sounds a bit fishy. actually i guess i am saying i sort of dont believe that could be a very quality product produced in such a way. you might be able to get something useful enough for your own use, but it would probably not be very strong or fired enough to really be a well made ceramic piece.

    i have seen some brick hand built kilns that were excellent tho....
    it is difficult in these altternative ways that are being discussed to get the max heat you need to build up.
     
    Joe Braxton
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    Some good videos from the Folkways series on UNC TV. Shows turning pots, firing a groundhog kiln, digging clay, grinding glass for glaze. etc.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s09tW5BaUsg - part 1 (1982)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex7R63k8fHE - part 2 (1982)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxsN2a1aBEg - part 1 (1996)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHHoie2kY1s - part 2 (1996)


    Enjoy.
     
    Bill Bradbury
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    leila hamaya wrote:well like i was saying, i had a really good grasp on the skills involved....i was working in a ceramics co op and trying to do it professionally. it was my main study in college. but that was all working with purchased materials and large kilns.

    it is just much harder than it could seem, imo to make a good pit kiln.
    not to say i dont completely believe, but the whole bonfire things sounds a bit fishy. actually i guess i am saying i sort of dont believe that could be a very quality product produced in such a way. you might be able to get something useful enough for your own use, but it would probably not be very strong or fired enough to really be a well made ceramic piece.

    My teacher, Don Felipe Ortega, builds the most beautiful and useful pots I have ever seen. They are not thrown, but built from hand dug and hand processed clay, then fired in an open bonfire. I have been using the bean pot Felipe made for me for almost a decade. The unglazed micaceous clay pot goes right on my gas burner. There is no place on the pot exceeding 1/8"!
    I have attached his directions for building pots like this yourself.
    Filename: Felipe-Art-and-Practice.pdf
    File size: 110 Kbytes
    Filename: Felipe-Ceramics-for-the-Archaeologist.pdf
    File size: 129 Kbytes
     
    leila hamaya
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    thats interesting, i have never heard of anyone working in a similar way. i personally still would have doubts about how strong you could make a pot in any kind of open bonfire.

    i would also think that kilns would not have been invented, were it not for a need to increase the quality of fired clay. i am sure its not at all a new idea to create either a pit kiln or a brick/earthen enclosure of some kind to capture and hold as much heat for as long as possible to make more durable ceramics.
    necessity being the mother of invention and all =)
    if it were that open bonfires worked well people would not have created kilns in general...

    in the experimental homemade kilns with wood fire that i have made...it was a process of a couple of days to keep burning to finally get close to enough temperature. not just put it in a open fire for a bit....
     
    Michael Cox
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    Leila - I wasn't really suggesting open fires as ideal, just that I have seen some videos of it being done. Here is a link to an earthen kiln capable of reaching 1400 degrees.

    Earthen kiln dug into a bank, with chimney

    The chimney seems to make a big difference - according to the authors comments adding chimney made the temperature jump hundreds of degrees.
     
    Bill Bradbury
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    leila hamaya wrote:thats interesting, i have never heard of anyone working in a similar way. i personally still would have doubts about how strong you could make a pot in any kind of open bonfire.

    i would also think that kilns would not have been invented, were it not for a need to increase the quality of fired clay. i am sure its not at all a new idea to create either a pit kiln or a brick/earthen enclosure of some kind to capture and hold as much heat for as long as possible to make more durable ceramics.
    necessity being the mother of invention and all =)
    if it were that open bonfires worked well people would not have created kilns in general...

    in the experimental homemade kilns with wood fire that i have made...it was a process of a couple of days to keep burning to finally get close to enough temperature. not just put it in a open fire for a bit....

    Leila, please read the previously attached instructions.

    If you still think it won't work, order some clay from Don Felipe, his address is at the end, but please don't include any of the above comments about how his ceramics are not strong and durable!

    The key here is the type of clay. Decomposed granite leaves clay rich in mica that has very interesting thermal properties. As I already said it is unglazed and you can cook right on the stovetop. The firing is outdoors in a small bonfire that is built around the pottery and only takes a couple of hours.

    From the attachment:
    Mother Earth may I dig from your belly the clay with which you and I will fashion vessels for
    the use of our people for our food. We thank you that you have given to us abundantly and
    may we also give abundantly to all our brothers and sisters. II Jicarilla Apache prayer for
    digging clay
    A. Micaceous Clay:
    This clay is a primary clay body which means that it is found at the same place where the
    clay was created. The telltale mark that announces the presence of micaceous clay is the
    abundance of quartz and feldspar. Mica in the clay body acts as a temper and also gives the
    clay body an insulating capacity. The chemical composition of the clay is primarily illite,
    scmectite, muscovite, sericite, kaolinite, and bentonite. The clay vitrifies at a relatively
    low temperature of about 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. The clay is extremely plastic for being a
    primary clay and is rather hardy.
    Some care should be taken in handling the finished pieces but again they will withstand
    certain abuse that other clay bodies would not tolerate.
    Our clay is our Mother and thus we urge you to look into your heart and ask Our Mother the
    Earth to guide you through the process of clay making. Understand that when we dig the clay
    we ask her permission to dig from her belly for the clay so that we may co-create her
    children for her. This is an awesome responsibility you have undertaken for we consider it the
    same as birthing children. And since this is the case you should also make sure that you are
    not super-serious nor super-relaxed.
    Birthing Children is at once sexual-spiritual so do not try to impose your desires on the child
    that is wanting to be birthed at your hands. You can have an unclear image in your mind but
    do not dictate your desires--this is not to be done with children and neither should it be done
    with your clay babies.
    On that May day in 1969 Jesusita told her son in law to take up to the clay pits and help me
    dig clay. She provided a gunny sack, pick and shovel along with the proper offerings. Long
    time ago our ancestor women dug the clay with digging sticks but today we use pick and
    shovel. The clay can be found close to the surface but in the dead of summer it will be as
    hard as stone to extract, that is why the traditions states that clay should only be dug in
    Spring time (and with good reason). The clay will have organic matter and small stones both
    quartz and mica shale. The clay was originally cleaned immediately at the clay pit and only
    pure clay would be brought back to the camp site for later use. The traditional method for
    cleaning clay is to add one part clay and two parts water in a large container. With a small
    atole bowl they would extract a small bit of clayey water and swirl it in the bowl to settle
    the stones and the organic matter would rise to the top. The organic matter was removed by
    hand and the clay would be poured into a hole in the ground that would have been lined with
    deer skins. The stones and other heavy debris would remain in the bottom of the bowl and
    would be discarded next to the clay pit. The water would saturate the hide and would be
    absorbed by the ground leaving a most sensuous clay.
     
    leila hamaya
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    hey all, i did read the attachment , last night.

    it some interesting stuff for other reasons. and yeah i did come to the same conclusion- it is because they have a very unusual and rare type of clay.

    "The clay vitrifies at a relatively
    low temperature of about 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. The clay is extremely plastic for being a
    primary clay and is rather hardy. "

    i know of no other clay body that will harden at this temperature. it may exist, but it is not similar to what most people would try to work with, it is certainly not like clay you would purchase at a ceramics place. here is a chart i googled to show the more common kinds of clay and the temperature range needed.

    anywho too bad i dont have a shell mother to provide for my low fire clay needs =) but most people if they were to think to replicate this would probably be very dissapointed with the results, unless they had something similar, and would likely have a steep learning curve trying to make anything like an open firing work out...more than likely they would break or crack something, or still have it be only leather hard at the end. or it would be slightly "bisque" fired, if it wouldnt break, and be still very fragile.

    i am not trying to be nitpicky or say he is doing it wrong, just trying to present some information that may be helpful to someone.
    dont want to steer you wrong...and i think someone could get the impression that you could fire commonly available stoneware type clays on an open pit like this, just put it on a fire for a bit, and its just not that simple. that is probably how early peeps started out tho, trying to make early ceramics and trying to work out how to fire. most people because of the clay they had, would find their pots were still fragile, and then kilns were thought up and started being innovated to be better at getting to those highest temperatures.
     
    Brian Cady
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    Leila and Bill, I'm glad to have both of your experienced viewpoints in this thread, which is revealing some interesting useful facts of firing. I'm learning.
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Brother Bill...awsome info...assume teacher (I am impressed that you know Felipe Ortega)...awesome experience!!

    More folks need to find teachers that can lead them into the world of vernacular and traditional systems.

    The first "firing" of clay I saw was in 1967, and I was barely old enough (I was 6 years old) to be of any use to my Mother and Grandmother, while they assisted Pueblo, Hopi and Deni friends in a traditional "pit firing." This style, probably to this very day, and through history, is a dominate (and very functional form.)

    Clay body type (such as Micaceous Clays) are a vital part of successful pit firings and give much of the strength needed for such a firing method. I have know of some that took over 4 days, very similar to a kiln firing...just different modality...

    Regards,

    j
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    ...but most people if they were to think to replicate this would probably be very disappointed with the results, unless they had something similar, and would likely have a steep learning curve trying to make anything like an open firing work out...more than likely they would break or crack something, or still have it be only leather hard at the end. or it would be slightly "bisque" fired, if it wouldn't break, and be still very fragile...


    Hi Leila,

    I know you stated not meaning to be "nitpicky" yet that above is kinda...well...

    Vicki Hardin, et al is just one of may full time and experienced ceramist beside the one that Bill shared that would probably take a bit of umbridge with the above statement. I am not suggesting that everyone can just go out and pit fire stoneware clay...yet...it is a dominate form throughout history and even today, rendering very useful and functional pottery with a number of different clay bodies.

    Here is a quote from Vicki to a student that is rather counter to what is suggested above...

    Vicki Hardin wrote:While almost any clay can be pitfired with some care, I would recommend that you use an open body, one with some grog. Translated…ask your supplier for a raku clay or a cone six stoneware. The problem you are going to have foremost is firing without a bisque, which is the initial firing which drives the water off the clay and hardens it for glazing. A primitive firing is quite involved when you are working with pieces that have not been bisque fired because they are quite fragile when exposed the intense temperature changes involved with an open pit.


    The only thing I would add to Vicki's comment...do a bisque pit firing as well as a full on "hot pitting." I have fired stoneware clays myself in a pit fire...a challenge...but achievable.

    Regards,

    j
     
    leila hamaya
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    well truly i am not trying to be nitpicky at all.

    and perhaps i am wrong and this is more commonly done than i ever heard of...i reckon being wrong is good for the soul =), i suppose i am learning something i didnt know. it is certainly not at all common with professional potters.

    when i hear "pit firing" i think of a small dug enclosure like a pit kiln like something posted above. or even a large dug out part of a hill, but completely surrounded by earth underground, NOT an open bonfire. i cannot see how you could generate enough heat with a bonfire, but perhaps that is me.....

    i can say that with lots of studio pottery experience, i actually grabbed a shovel and dug myself a few kilns, determined to figure out how to build a primitive kiln, and was not able to make one that was functional. i guess if i kept at it i wouldve likely figured out how to do it, but it was not easy. my kilns, even being completely underground, did not get hot enough to successfully fire clay so that usable products were coming out. this makes me skeptical that an open bonfire firing could ever work.

    it makes me especially skeptical that someone with less to no experience, who wants to use something like this to make some pottery items for around their homestead, could work out a firing on an open bonfire and have it work. not without hundreds of pots being broken and/or not fired correctly first, at the very least. but again perhaps i am wrong and this is more viable than it seems...i still wouldnt try it!

    ceramicists who work in nice setup studios with easy turn the knob to the right settings, dont usually have any interest...or think this is good idea to experiment with...well many of them anyway, i found very little assistance to figure out how to do it from my teachers or fellow potters. and an attitude of why bother?
    i would assume many of them would think it was a waste of time, or not possible, to make quality items this way. i am not saying they are right, just saying its certainly not a common practice to explore this stuff where i am coming from.
    having done some trial and error like this, its not as easy as you could think.

    and i definitely think its misleading to give the impression to people who are completely new to this, that this is the way to go....that they could just make up some pots and fire them on an open bonfire, in a few hours....

    that there is a clay body which is extremely rare to be able to fired at such a low temperature is also something i did not know. but that there exists one place where such a clay can be found, and that someone makes pots with that on an open bonfire, does not really translate to someone else who doesnt have this rare clay. with most clays this would not work at all ( as far as my understanding is), and i still no of no other clay body that works like that, not one thats commonly available. so i think thats misleading too....
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Gosh Leila, I have to say our experiences with potters and other ceramists is very different...

    All the ones I know have either built there own kilns, at a minimum, and/or have done several types of pit firing methods even paper clay large sculpture firing. So I would agree our experiences of this craft (and its Artisans) are vastly different since the first form of pottery I learned was fired in an "earth womb." I personally have never met any successful potters with an..."attitude of why bother?" More importantly...none would ever suggest to a new student or someone is trying to learn something new...not to try...or...that, "...it was a waste of time or not possible..." Clearly it is possible as my ancestors and other indigenous people around the globe have been (and are) doing this for over 10,000 years. Lets not also forget that the vast majority of the ceramic shards we find in archaeological sites that record the progress of humans, including the first writings are all fired in open and/or earth kilns.

    it makes me especially skeptical that someone with less to no experience, who wants to use something like this to make some pottery items for around their homestead, could work out a firing on an open bonfire and have it work. not without hundreds of pots being broken and/or not fired correctly first, at the very least. but again perhaps i am wrong and this is more viable than it seems...i still wouldn't try it!


    I am sorry that the attempts you made with this modality were unsuccessful, yet with the posts just here on this thread, not to mention the plethora of info now on the internet, I think it would be better to be encouraging to folks wanting to try, instead of suggest..."I wouldn't try." That isn't quite how this kind of craft works...Its all about "trying" and "learning" what we may not now understand or have experience with...not being successful...even many times...is not a reason to give up or nay say those that are wanting to learn. Be skeptical if you choose, yet it has been done, is done and others are learning how to do it as well. Perhaps it is time to correspond with folks like referenced above, and other that do this type of firing so maybe another attempt can be made.

    that there is a clay body which is extremely rare.... but that there exists one place where such a clay can be found and that someone makes pots with that on an open bonfire, does not really translate to someone else who doesn't have this rare clay. with most clays this would not work at all ( as far as my understanding is), and i still no of no other clay body that works like that, not one thats commonly available. so i think that's misleading too....


    First, nobody is "misleading" anyone. That is rather harsh. Second I made reference (I am sure others could as well) to other clay bodies being able to be used, so lets not keep trying to suggest that anything is "rare" as it doesn't take much time to research (if one is interested) in finding methods and teachers of these methods. So perhaps many clays would be a challenge, that is not the same as "would not work at all."

    Lets stay positive and encouraging...
     
    leila hamaya
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    well i have made my point, regardless of who agrees, or listens, i still think what i think.

    i was very specifically speaking about an open bonfire type firing, that is what i think is not really worth trying to figure out. to actually build a kiln, or to dig a big pit, an actual earthen kiln is a different thing, that is definitely worth trying out. thats why i wanted to construct one.

    but no i know of no one who would try to fire pottery on an open bonfire.
     
    Bill Bradbury
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    Leila, I did a quick search and found this video made by a student of Don Felipe's. In the video you will see back in the corner of the studio, 50 lb bags of clay that he sells to the public. I'm having trouble finding the pictures of my then 7 year old daughter building these pots and then firing in a little metal barbecue in the winter. It's not very difficult, but labor intensive. I would guess that Northern Northern California has this type of clay as well, since there is abundant granite there.

    Cafe Pasqual
     
    Miles Flansburg
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    Some good links. http://www.claystation.com/technical/firing/pit.html

    In college I was lucky enough to train under a master potter from Germany. She helped us do a traditional pit firing with buffalo chips and all.
    Because the pit was covered the pots were all black and polished up beautifully.
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Miles...that was a great link...thanks for posting that here for others to follow...

    Hey Bill,

    That was a great video...I grew up making pots that way and my mother (I was to young to remember details) has met and knows Felipe...

    I remember kitchen's like the one described in your link with little but cast iron here and there and a plethora of clay cook pots and fry griddles, coffee/tea mugs, and the related...All of course fired in an open pit. It is wonderful the new escalation in learning these methods and how to cook with such pottery. Stoneware is wonderful, but could never be durable enough to be cooked in day after day over an open flame and never in a fire place or cook fire...These types of pots excel at that and impart a richness to the food that can not be replicated any other way...

    Because of this post thread I have looked at what is out there on this subject and am amazed at the volume of folks doing this form of pottery and cooking with it...that is just wonderful!!

    Thanks for posting the video and links...
     
    Valerie Dawnstar
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    Having been an amateur potter with not nearly as much experience as others here, I started wondering - after watching the video of Ernie Wisner heating metal to forging temperature in a RMH ...

    I know some wood fired kilns are built with baffles like masonry stoves and I also know of the problems associated with inconsistent temperatures when firing pottery but has anyone heard of doing this using rocket mass heater 'technology?'

    Thanks for all those great links, folks!
     
    William Bronson
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    Valerie Dawnstar
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    I can't find a rmh on that page...
     
    William Bronson
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    Jay C. White Cloud
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    William, your link still is not working properly...if these are not copy write protected photos...please post them here and not just a link...That way others can see of what you reference.

    Regards,

    j
     
    William Bronson
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    Weird. Oh well, here are some highlights.

    IMG_8709.jpeg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_8709.jpeg]
    IMG_8710.jpeg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_8710.jpeg]
     
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