15 June 2014

pit fired clay beads~

i started making my own clay beads. i saw some kiln fired beads that went into a pit for effect and thought, wow! i live by and work at a pueblo known for pit firing without the kiln and had seen it done with beautiful pottery. amazing work. i thought. i wonder if i could pit fire, just pit fire, clay beads? so i went to santa fe clay and purchased 25 pounds of white clay. away I went.
making, making, making, experimenting with the clay. here is a small selection of the 100 i made at first. it is soothing working with clay. carving, decorating, making holes to create beads for adornment...and i did some research. not too many hits on beads, but read a lot about pit firing pots. i love an experiment!
and then starting fires! i pit fired them in my charcoal grill as digging a pit in my yard is out of the question. i have an all edible yard full of gardens, in the city, with no place for a pit. the first day, my daughter came out and thought i was burning paperwork as a cleansing ritual and asked if she could throw in some school work. she's too cute!
a sampling of the first round. i had the fire too BIG the first go around, so i doused  it and re-fired these babies. they came out pretty cool me thinks. i must admit. it was hard finding the beads in the ash. so my son dug around and found them all! he's very helpful and i am very grateful.
again. another view of the beads.
and a little house because we are the house family. i married into a fun name. we make so many things into houses.
enameled beer bottle caps with beads from the second firing. i wear them all the time! they are a conversation starter for sure.
today i started the third firing. this time i made bobbles with wires for hanging. i traded the lunch folks at school a few of my beads for this can. they opened it specially for me to use, so i thought i'd give in return. i put grass in the can, laid in the bobbles and set the can on a bed of grass, paper and oak.
i built up the sides with wood as i went. sheesh! i hadn't even had my coffee yet but here i was, starting fires at 6 a.m. gotta do it before the winds pick up. it's so peaceful in the back yard so early in the morn anyway, so i truly didn't mind.
after the fire died down, i pushed all the coals up around the can and put the lid on on the grill and waited.
two hours later i pulled the can from the ash and uncovered it. lookie! i made bobbles! and i can see them! no digging around in the ashes this time.
cooling on a tray. they were already pretty cooled down as it was and i only lost three out of 26 to fractures while they were in the fire itself. the first and second time around i lost about 6. not bad.
i dropped a couple as i transferred then. yup. solid! this is a low fire technique and unglazed so they should not be submerged in water just like any other unglazed clay. but they are strong and fit.
another view all dangling.
i made a couple of pendants with my enamels and the beads and bobbles. i love how they compliment each other. whew! what fun i am having.
my husband, mr. house, is getting a kick out me playing with fire as usually i shy away from it. now to make some more for next weekend! xoxo