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why sawdust fire?

updated wed 30 apr 97


kurt l. wild on sun 20 apr 97

Why not just pull your pieces from the bisque and smother them, roll them
in leaves or grass, partially smoke them, etc.? Be sure you SHUT OFF the
kiln when you reach bisque temperature and then pull out your pieces (using
tongs) before the temp drops below 1200 degrees F. This makes for a simple
procedure rather than going through the sawdust firing process.

If you csannot bisque fire, warm pieces in an oven increasing temp 100
degrees every 15 minutes until 400 or 500. Then place pots in your sawdust
firing container (kiln or 5 gallon pail with 1/4" holes every inch apart).
Not hot enough to star sawdust on fire but the sawdust will insulate the
pots until the sawdust smolders down to thewm. Use shavings and pack them
down weithou breaking the pots. Fine sawdust will not let enough air in
but packed shavings will give smoke and keep burning. One should only see
a wisp of smoke coming from sawdust firing and even a five gallon can
firing should take a couple of hours.

To avoid crud
,crust,etc. wrap pieces in window screen. This will keep the sawdust from
direct contact with the pots.

Another approach: Take a coffee can and drill holes every inch apart.
Warm pots in oven, put them in can with sawdust, chunks of wood, orange
peels etc., repace can lid (not the plastic one, the metal one) put can in
area you intend to have a bonfire and letit go. Or, put the can in your
fireplace or wood stove. Or, build a small fire on metal or bricks and
when burned down to coals set the warmed pot on the coals and surround it
with wood (set up like a teepee). Firing directly on ground seems to bring
out the moisture. When the wood starts to fall away dump on some
cumbustibes and cover with a can. Or, do this firing is acan full of
holes. Also when firing us done, dump on cumbustibles and cover with
another can or let it oxidize.

All sorts of hybrid firings can be had. When you think about it sawdust
firing, pit firing, garbage firing, raku and low fire salt firings as well
as so called other methods of primitve firngs (like Maria Martinez or the
potters of Mata Ortiz -Juan Quesada & others there).

If you can"t afford a kiln, some hybrid of all the above might work for
you; or, if you are doing firings for fun some of these could work for
you. And --even produce pretty wonderful stuff.