Into the fire…on the beach!

I’m very excited to share my latest pit fire with the help of photos from a fellow pit fire participant’s photos–cuz I was too busy playing with fire.

Our scheduled OVCAG-Orchard Valley Ceramics Art Guild-September Pit Fire Workshop was managed by me and I must say it went very smooth…thank goodness!

Twin Lakes Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Lovely beach with many fire rings that come in very handy. But the ashes need to be shoveled out first…at least about 2 feet. Lance dug out 3 feet and I believe it helped to give better reduction effects on my pot.

I arrived at the Santa Cruz Twin Lakes Beach with my very handsome muscle man, otherwise known as My Husband Lance in tow. And he did a magnificent job of digging out the fire pit!

Pitfire02_fillingup
Then the cowpies to cover all the pots.
Then newspaper and kindling and then tent the fire wood on top before lighting.

We piled on the wood collected from a local sawmill who generously donated their scraps.

Pitfire03_Lighting
Note how the fire wood is piled in a tent style. It’s to make sure that the pit is lit evenly. We piled as much wood as possible initially and filled in as it starts to die down.

And because I like to play with fire, I added a few more when I noticed some empty spots. Wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any exposed pots during the firing. Boy, it was HOT!

Pitfire04_adding
The flames were super high and really hot. I recommend using Kiln gloves or at least a very long tongs when working with the fire. As you see, I had neither! Notice also the mound of ashes and sand next to the pit?

Now the hard part…letting it burn.

Pitfire05_lit
We noticed that there were active flames only on one side, but it moved across the pit as it burned through. Giving the air to burn with the tented wood pile helps this greatly versus just throwing in the logs like a regular camp fire.

And wait…

Pitfire06_redhot
A bit over an hour has passed and the fire is dying down, but it’s still very hot and under the ashen wood, there were still active flames.

Trying to look like we are waiting patiently…

Pitfire08_waiting
pitfire07_peeking That’s my Muscle Man Otherwise Known As My Husband Lance. And fellow pit fire crew, Guo Feng and Joan Lin.

Lunch time! We came prepared with pot luck food…pastries, hot coffee, chips and dip, cold cuts, cold peanut sesame noodles and lots of fruit. We could have fed 10 more people!

Pitfire09_picnic
Can’t have a beach pit fire without the right provisions! Shade and food!

After about 2.5 hours, we started to get way too eager and decided to move the embers around to speed up the cooling process.

pitfire10_ashes
This is Guo’s pit. She used white stoneware and used clear and stained terra sigilata. While loading the pit, she also sprinkled Red Iron Oxide to the tops of the pieces. Great blacks on the bottom and spotted browns from the iron oxide showed well on the top.
Pitfire11_cooling
Yes, little miss impatient Miki took pots out of the pit while it was still very very hot…it was tinking loudly…not a good sign but all worked out.

And my pit. Great black and lots of color flashes from the Salt and Copper Carbonate. It was the deepest pit and burned longer than the others, and the results were beautiful!

IMG_4173
I wanted to take this driftwood home so I could take all my pit fire pots, but alas…

And back in my studio, the other pots.

Notice the difference between the smaller ones in the middle and the bigger ones. I started get bored with the pebble burnishing and so the bigger ones only got 2 phase burnishing while the little ones had 3 phase burnishing… 1. at leather hard, 2. at green and 3. at bone dry with canola oil. Once these are finished with floor wax polishing, I hope they even out, but in the future, I won’t be as lazy!

IMG_4178
I pebble finish all my pots. Take a very smooth river stone and softly rub the pots in small circles until they get super shiny. This photo is a reminder for me to not be lazy with my efforts because the results don’t lie.

We started at 7:00 am and left the beach at 1:45 pm which included cleaning up and packing up the car. Super efficient and got great results. A very happy crew!

PitFIre13_Group
Jim, Guo Feng, Megan George, Joan Lin, Miki Shim-Rutter, Irene Jenkins.

Photos by Lance and Jim! Thank you!

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