Geoff Searle: The Pit-Fired Process
Pots from the potter’s wheel are left to dry to a leather-hard stage. After trimming to a final shape, each piece is polished to a mirror-like finish using the back of a silver spoon. As the work dries, it is polished twice more, until the surface is satin smooth.
The pot is then fired to approximately 1700 degrees Fahrenheit reaching a “biscuit” stage. Once cooled the pot is wrapped in an assortment of organic materials and metallic salts, which are fumed during a second firing inside a saggar (a box made of fireclay) in a pit, dug into the ground.
All the pieces are fired in the same way, yet they all come out differently. Straw, copper, iron and pine needles add to the variety of patterns and colours in the work.
The combination of burnishing clay and firing in a ground pit is not a new idea. The method has been used for centuries. By adding organic materials and metals to the process, many unique, complex and exciting pieces are created.
Tall Burnished Vase with Double Top by Geoff Searle