Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pit firing at Liisa's

While visiting Liisa outside Tucson, she did her first pit fire of this year.  It was quite  a bit of work for her visitors gathering the grasses and the mesquite  and getting the pots closer to reach as she was within the pit.  But what an experience to bury beautiful ceramic work deep into a pit and cover with minerals---copper and salt and one more forgotten item---and then build a fire on top of these forms...carefully, and really in this case too carefully, as the fire did not smoke the pots enough.  Such a gamble to offer up your work to smoke and fire to charm it into a coating fit for galleries and customers.  Liisa, who has been making pottery for 35 years, is finding herself experimenting and learning, making mistakes in the process of discovering her way with clay in a new area, a new arena.  The pit was loaded before we feasted and then lit as the stars came out in the vast desert sky and the flames leapt orange as they strained from their confinement, but it smoked too little and the results were not thrilling enough for this master potter and she will need to make another fire soon again and commit her work once more to the test.  The pottery shown is all pre fire but for the unloading which seems to want to be first in the list.

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