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


  1. Ok, now that looks like FUN. :)

  2. So much fun. I can sense your glee with this new found creating. And it's 100% darlicious!

    1. I love the way they compliment each other and now I have 100% me in my jewelry. lol won't stop me from having kim or petra represented too! fun, fun.

  3. omg that's awesome! great idea to use a bbq for firing clay. I was this close to digging up a pit in the yard LOL

    might try this soon :D
    and i love the colour they get. will you attemot to paint them or add any glazes later?

    1. i've thought about a little gilding here and there, but pretty much leaving them alone. xoxo

  4. WOW! I can't believe you did that! Amazing and...inspiring. I am embarrassed to say I actually have a real kiln and it has been sitting without being used for 1.5 years because it's intimidating. Fire is not my best element--water is, metal is, wood is, earth is; but honest to god these pictures are humbling and I see how silly I've been. I resolve to figure out the kiln by the end of July. The fire month. Fitting. Touche! Amazing.

    1. so glad you're gonna jump right in. I've seen some beads kiln fired first and then put in the fire pit, but these ones of mine are pure fire. have fun! xoxo


how delightful that you came to visit. i love your kind comments of all shapes and sizes. thank you very much indeed! darlene