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Ancient world ceramics and sculpture alongside archaeology and ethnic inspired jewellery. Handmade treasures that are really unique. All ceramics are faithfully recreated with hand dug clay and fired using early firing technology.


See below for my firing methods and there is more info about EarthenMe in my profile. Find it by clicking Sara in the shop's left hand menu.




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ANCIENT & TRADITIONAL POTTERY TECHNIQUES


I use only ancient firing methods for all my figurines and pottery jewellery. In order to recreate a five or twenty five thousand year old original, each piece is modeled from clay that has been dug by hand and tempered with plenty of hand made grog and/or sand. I then fire in a clamp kiln or an open hearth.

A clamp kiln is like a cross between pit firing and the covered open hearth firing of the Native Americans. It is incredibly similar to a traditional charcoal clamp in that the firing chamber is built around the pottery and lasts only for the duration of the firing. Also reading the quantity and colour of the smoke is the primary way of gauging what is happening inside. The type and thickness of wood is critical to controlling the firing temperature and the speed it rises. But it is a fuel and labour efficient way of firing and takes 24 to 48 hours to fire. It is a method we used during reconstruction archaeology based on the evidence of very shallow burnt pits contemporary to pottery fired at temperatures that could only achieved within a chambered kiln but before the advent of permanent kilns. There is also great similarities between the pottery analysis and firing evidence with the continuing practices of traditional Pueblo and African potters today.

To construct a clamp kiln the unfired pottery is stacked on a wood raft which is laid on the embers of a fire within a shallow pit. The shallow pit has proved to be fantastic for controlling the draft with extra earth controlling the speed at which the raft catches light. The pottery is then covered with sticks and then sods of earth, turf and vegetation to provide an enclosed chamber with a slowly increasing temperature. The clamp is tended during the day to prevent 'break out' and left to burn away over night to achieve oxidized terracotta coloured pottery. It can be be reduction fired by applying a coat of wet clay or mud to the outside once temperature is reached, which deprives the chamber of oxygen.

Firing in an open hearth is more fuel and labour intensive but is much faster and I have control of individual pieces throughout the stages of firing. I can add minerals for colour in a similar way to pit firing or the pottery can be taken from the fire while it is still glowing red and plunged into sawdust to achieve different levels of reduction, a technique used in Raku firing. It is hard work and can get incredibly HOT! but it is great fun working directly with fire like that.