• Katherine Fortnum

Kiln Firing Method - Pit Firing

Updated: Dec 28, 2019

Firing clay is the most critical part of the ceramics process because it is the one thing that makes clay durable, hence ceramic.

Pottery that is referred to as being pit fired, is not glazed, and has been fired in an open bonfire or primitive pit kiln, often without a kiln like structure. Pottery fired to this low temperature is porous and not watertight.


In an open fire, the potter can only expect to attain a temperature of 1500 F. This is adequate for hardening earthenware, and is commonly employed in primitive societies.


Preparing the pots - Terra Sigillata is applied to the surface of an unfired clay pot. This technique predates the development of glazes. Pre-Columbian pottery as well as Greek Attica wares used Terra Sigillata.


Once loaded inside the pit the pots are covered in sawdust and materials such as salt and copper to encourage the pots to produce colour, from deep red to blues and orange. Wood is then stacked directly on top of the pots and set alight. The firing takes 16 hours for The wood burns down to coals.


Contemporary studio potters use pit firing to attain specific surface effects, such as Carbon Trapping and Colour Fuming.



Pit Firing

An example of pit fired ceramics

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