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How to Make an Apple Baker on the Pottery Wheel

Posted On November 28, 2013 7 Comments

We have started an unofficial tradition of sharing both a clay project and an food recipe the day before Thanksgiving. So today I am posting an article from the Potters Kitchen section of the September/October issue Pottery Making Illustrated, which also happens to be a good fall project. In this post, Sumi von Dassow demonstrates how to make an apple baker, and also gives instruction on how to bake the apples once it’s done.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Surface Decoration Techniques for Pit Firing

Posted On August 2, 2013 4 Comments

Summer and Fall are perfect for experimenting with alternative firing techniques like barrel, pit, or raku firing. So for today’s video, I thought I would share a clip from Sumi von Dassow’s DVD Pit Firing and Burnishing. In this clip, Sumi shows some ways you can doctor up your pots before pit firing to get some magnificent marks.


How to Make a Square Baking Dish and Fill it with Rhubarb Crisp

Posted On April 3, 2013 5 Comments

In my neck of the woods, it’s the time of year when rhubarb starts peaking up through the cold ground. So when I saw Sumi von Dassow’s article on how to make a baker for rhubarb crisp going into the March/April 2013 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, I knew I had to share it. In this post, Sumi demonstrates how she makes her lovely square baking dishes (that are great for any type of baked dessert – not just rhubarb!). Plus she shares a recipe for rhubarb crisp from the lovely Sarah Jaeger! – Jennifer Harnetty editor.


Terra Sigillata 101: How to Make, Apply, and Troubleshoot Terra Sig

Posted On October 5, 2011 15 Comments

Terra sigillata means ‘sealed earth’ and comes from the name of a type of Roman pottery mass-produced around the first century AD. But the Romans copied the Greek technique used in their famous black and red pottery for hundreds of years before that. Here is a complete guide to making and applying terra sigillata, recipes, and troubleshooting.



Going Low Tech: A Step by Step Guide to Burnishing Pottery

Posted On April 25, 2011 26 Comments

Burnishing is the technique of polishing clay to a beautiful sheen without the use of glaze. Ancient potters used these techniques to produce their wares before glazes and kilns were developed. Today, modern potters use  burnishing to create works of great beauty. Sumi von Dassow is one of those potters. She has been using low-tech pottery making techniques for more than thirty years. Though the burnishing technique is low tech, there are some secrets to really getting it right. In today’s post, Sumi shares her step-by-step method for burnishing pots.

Pit Firing & Burnishing Cover Image

Pit Firing and Burnishing

Posted On March 5, 2011 Comments Off

Pit firing is an exciting firing process with roots in the earliest forms of pottery making. Burnishing is the technique of polishing clay without the use of glaze. Ancient potters used these techniques to produce their wares before glazes and kilns were developed; modern potters use pit firing and burnishing to create works of great beauty. In this video, Sumi von Dassow shares the methods of pit firing and burnishing that she has developed over the course of thirty years. You’ll learn how to prepare pots for firing, what materials and chemicals to use in the firing, and how to load and fire a pit.

Low Firing and Burnishing Cover

Low-firing and Burnishing

Posted On August 29, 2010 Comments Off

Back by Popular Demand!

Because low-firing is the most basic of all ceramic techniques, it really treats all your senses. Using just about the lowest possible technical setting, you submit your work to flames and smoke giving you a sense of what the ancients felt when they used fire to create their primitive works. Both ancient cultures and contemporary potters have used low-firing to great effect, adding slips and burnishing pieces to create finishes not possible with any other firing method. Whether using an old garbage can, a pit in the ground, or a bonfire, low-firing is accessible to anyone with an outdoor space. Low-firing and Burnishing  provides step-by-step practical information focusing on various approaches to low firing and methods for creating natural finishes.

Even more exciting than the open flame: the beautiful effects of a well-planned pit firing!

Pit Firing Video: A Guide to Gathering Fuels for the Best Results in a Pit Firing

Posted On July 23, 2010 50 Comments

Sumi von Dassow has been using the pit firing process for many many years and it shows in the amazing colors and surface effects on her pots. In today’s video, she shares some of the knowledge she has gained from her years of trial and error (and she shows some results from the firing!). So sit back and learn how to choose
combustibles and load them into your pit for maximum effect.

Grilling Season: How to Pit Fire Pottery Using a Good Old-Fashioned Charcoal Grill

Posted On July 7, 2010 45 Comments

It’s summer and time to throw some pots on the barbecue! Yes indeed, your trusty old Weber grill, the little round one on three legs that you might have left sitting in your garage when you upgraded your outdoor kitchen, can have a second life as a mini-kiln. If you don’t have a kiln but still want to fire some pots—or you have an electric kiln but you’d like to do some smoke-firing without digging a fire-pit in your yard or alarming the neighbors too much—the grill is a surprisingly versatile alternative.


Sumi von Dassow Collection – SAVE 10%

Posted On January 18, 2010 Comments Off

Sumi von Dassow is an expert on alternative firing techniques as well as an accomplished ceramics instructor and seasoned writer. Her latest book and DVD give you all the information you need to pick up many exciting low-tech pottery techniques.