Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Barrel Firing

Pinch Bowl One
Interior View

Pinched Bowl One
Front View
2.5 h x 5 w

Pinch Bowl One
Back View

Pinch Bowl Two
3 h x 4 w

Two Itty-Bitty Pinch Bowls
1 h x 2.5 w

Dusty Miller Pendant
3 x 2

Two more Dusty Miller Pendants

Sage Leaf Pendants
ranging from 4 in long down to 2.25 in

I cleaned the pieces but didn't put any wax on them because I was going to re fire a couple, but I've decided to leave them as they are. What do you think? I know if I had more bisque ready, I would be doing a another barrel firing again today. What great fun and every piece is such a surprise.

If you missed it, check my holy smoke post on how to do your own barrel firing. Also check Amy, Becky, and Elaine's posts on barrel firings. So far they have had eight firings. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me. I've learned so much from reading other blogs, I'd like to share what I've learned too.

I'm going to try making some more pots with taller, flatter and/or smoother sides to show off the colors obtained in barrel firings. I think my derriere pot would be a good one for a barrel firing. I'm off to the studio to make more pots.


  1. Looks like you got some great colors from your firing! You must be pretty happy with the results. They'll be beauties once their waxed up. I'm going to talk to my instructor about maybe doing a pit or barrel firing. It would be so fun!

  2. AMAZING colors! Wow... I hope you are pleased. I always rub murphy's oil soap? (I think it's called that) on my pieces with a wet sponge and more color usually comes out. Will take a closer look at these later. Gorgeous!

  3. Linda - these look great! I love the pendants - the colors are tremendous. You must be so excited.

  4. Hi Jerry, at first I was just happy they all made it and didn't break. I love the colors and can't believe it. I have some paste wax for furniture, I wonder if I should use that? Try and do a firing you would love it, it really is a blast.

    Hi Amy, thanks so much for all your encouragement and support through this process. I'll have to get some of that Murphy's Oil Soap. The bottoms of some of the bowls didn't get much if any color, but I know why. In my excitment to hurry and fire I forgot to sprinkle some of the chemicals directly around the bottom of the pots - that'll be next time. But the insides are wonderful.

    Hi Judy, I am so excited because none of them broke, then I got great color and I did it all by myself, I am really proud. I have lots of ideas for some other barrel fired pieces and some uses for the fired pieces too.

  5. Linda, these are gorgeous! I love the leaf pendants. Julia

  6. Very nice colors and shapes, its been a long time since I touched raku. What great fun.

  7. Linda . . these pots look wonderful! I love the rich colors you have achieved and the subtle variations. Very nice.

  8. Linda, are you going to sell those pendants somewhere I could find them? Julia

  9. Holy smokes! (pun intended) Lady Linda, you done soooo good! Luscious results! All are stunning but those sage leaf pendants!!! So very nice!

    I read a lot about finishing waxes etc. Have used bees wax. Have used BriWax (a wood workers wax) and have recently used an ordinary floor wax with very nice results. Might try different finishes on different pieces and see which you like best? so excited for you! How long were your pieces fired? What combustibles and additives did you use? Did you use charcoal? Cow pies? What kind of sawdust?

    Sorry I'm so full of questions but, well. I'm full of questions!
    Good on ya, Linda! Congratz! Lovely results!

  10. Just went back and enlarged the pix and am even more impressed. That pinch pot #1 will be a beaut when you add a little wax to it. There are secrets hidden there until you do. Botanicals and barrel firing make one heckuva combination.

    I know you've been waiting a long time to do this. Patience obviously pays off!

  11. Ok, I had a whole response to everyone's comments and it disappeared. Mad as a hornet. Back later.

  12. Hi Julia, thanks, I was pleasantly surprised the pendants didn't break or fall through the grate.

    Hi Gary, thanks I am happy with the results.

    Hi Ron, nice to see you here. Thanks, this was a barrel firing, I hope to do some raku in the near future. I am pleased with the results. One of your handbuilt pieces would look so good in a barrel firing. I hope to go larger next time, but this was an experiment to see how to fire and what ingredients to use.

    Hi Nona, thank you so much. I have been planning this for months and it finally all came together. I hope your husband is doing better, I've been thinking about you and your family.

    Hi Julia, that is the ultimate complement thanks so much. I need to refine the surfaces a bit and find out how waxed pendants can be used for jewlery before I sell them, but I will keep you posted. I love your rooster photos, they really ARE stuffed shirts.

    Hi Becky, thanks so much, those leaves were fresh from my garden last fall and they were wating to be fired all this time, little did they know they where going to go through trial by fire.

    Becky as far as the firing, check the holy smoke; but basically I started at 10 am and restarted at 10:10, smoked for about 15 minutes and then burned hot for about an hour. Then burned down for another hour and then smoldered for a while. I unloaded at 2:45 p.m. The pieces were cool to the touch, but the barrel was luke warm. It was 60 degrees F and the sun was shining with a breeze. We always get a breeze here.

    I used copper carbonate, copper oxide and red iron oxide, banana peels, orchid fertilizer, copper scrubbies and dried cat food. I did not use any sawdust. I used straw and hickory chips then willow branch kindling, then avocado split rounds and then eucalyptus split rounds.

    The fire was hot, the metal BBQ grate sagged in the middle from the heat. I am now doing some research on the melting point of various metals to see what temp it all got to. I had planned on using some cones, but forgot about that till now. Next time.

    An added bonus is my husband Gary is really intrigued with all the metalargy and we will be able learn about all the chemistry together. It is so much fun.

    The two larger pinch pots didn't get much color on the outside and I am debating whether to smoke fire just the outside with sawdust this weekend, we are discussing this and will decide on Friday.

    I will definitely try this all again, can't wait in fact. If I had had more bisqued pots today, I would already have another load done.

  13. Linda, I wonder if you tried the pot sealant that I use inside my oil lamps what kind of finish that would give you? It fills the pores in the porous unglazed clay and gives a glossy finish that is hard and waterproof. My oil lamps don't leak so it must be pretty stout stuff. I got it at It's not food safe, but that wouldn't be a problem with your pendants. Just a thought. Julia

  14. Hi Julia, I will check your pot sealant out - sounds like it might just do the trick. I was talking to a couple of my friends yesterday one suggested an acrylic sealer and for the ones I want to be food safe I might put a clear glaze on them and refire at a lower temperature. I am going to experiment with these with a different finish on each one and then I'll know better which finish is the best. Then I will make more and make those available to sell. Thanks so much for your information I really appreciate it.

  15. These are great results Linda!! Wow, such fun to see another adventurer out there. I feel like we are starting all over again with this new technique with Jim whalen. that is a bit frustrating. I think I like adding the different organic substances and the chemicals for the color...I like the thought of using straw and other flammables instead of just sawdust. Thanks for all your comments on the blog!!

  16. Hi Elaine, sometimes I think I am going off on too many tangents, and then I think what the heck. At first I thought barrel firing seemed simple but as often is the case with ceramics, it turns out to be much more complicated than I originally assumed. So many variable come into play for the colors, surfaces and shapes of the ceramics. I guess that's what keeps me coming back for more and willing to experiment even more too. Thanks for your great blog I have learned so much from so many potters throughout the country and it has been so helpful and encouraging in my quest to learn all I can about clay.


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