The Primitive Grace of Pit Fires

Clay is earth with the barest of refinements—dust that holds form.  I feel working with clay connects me to source. Clay is always elemental, in all shapes and firings, and I have used that rooted quality to anchor my light hearted creations of birds and goats. Both these animals have been fellow travelers in my life, spirits I’ve shared my home with.

Each of these clay sculptures have been carved and burnished with Terra Sigillta. Terra sigillata is an ultra refined clay slip that can give a soft sheen when applied to bone-dry clay pieces. When burnished  it takes on a shine. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this technique in lieu of glaze. After the pieces have been bisqued fired to cone 08 I apply another layer of colored slip and fire the work again. After the second firing the sculptures are pit fired. They are buried in sawdust and straw dipped in salt and fired slowly in a reduction atmosphere anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.

My sculptures may be placed outside, and often adorn gardens. During cold winter months in the Northern Hemisphere,  I recommend that they be brought inside to minimize the risk of cracks from freeze and thaw cycles.