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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.


Ceramics Decorating Video: How to Mix and Apply Terra Sigillata for Burnishing Pottery

Posted On December 18, 2009 32 Comments

In today’s video, an excerpt from her new DVD Pit Firing and Burnishing, Sumi von Dassow demonstrates how to mix and apply terra sigillata to burnish into a beautiful sheen.


Aluminum Foil Saggars: An Easy Alternative to Traditional Clay Saggars

Posted On December 9, 2009 33 Comments

Today, in an excerpt from her new book Low Firing and Burnishing, Sumi Von Dassow explains how potter Edgeworth Barnes fires his pottery in aluminum foil saggars with great results.


Make Your Pottery Shine Without Glaze: Sumi Von Dassow Explains the Basics of Burnishing Pottery

Posted On October 5, 2009 16 Comments

In today’s post, an excerpt from her new book Low Firing and Burnishing, Sumi Von Dassow explains the basics of burnishing pottery, from the tools to use, to a couple of basic techniques.

Test glazes, each consisting of 8 parts Sumi's Volumetric Clear to 1 part Mason stain. Back row, left to right: stain 6319 (Lavender), 6364 (Turquoise) and 6387 (Mulberry). Front row, left to right: stain 6000 (Shell Pink), 6407 (Marigold), 6121 (Saturn Orange) and 6006 (Deep Crimson). Tests are on cones made from slabs rolled out on lace to show how the glaze looks on a textured surface.

No Scale? No Problem. Using a Volumetric Glaze Recipe for Ceramic Glaze Testing

Posted On February 2, 2009 1 Comment

Mixing ceramic glazes from scratch can be intimidating to those just getting started. And sometimes it just isn’t practical or possible to purchase or have access to an accurate gram scale. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that mixing glazes is out of the question. As Sumi Von Dassow explains in today’s post, mixing ceramic glazes with a volumetric recipe can be a great way to get your feet wet and learn more about ceramic glaze materials in the process. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

This tile was decorated with resist inlay and underglazes. The design was carved with a loop sgraffito tool and a dental tool.

Resist Inlay: A Simple Decorating Technique

Posted On September 29, 2008 2 Comments

I think we’ve all heard it said that the simplest solution is the best. And while I always make it a rule to never deal in absolutes, today’s tip does seem to prove this adage true. Brought to us by Sumi von Dassow, this surface-decoration technique involves just a few tools and materials that I’ll bet you already have in your studio. And like most simple techniques, a little experimentation can result in many new ways to add interest and depth to your work. But Sumi doesn’t stop there; she also includes some general tips for working with wax resist, and these will help you regardless of which wax technique you use. Enjoy!

Barrel Pit And Saggar Cover

Barrel, Pit and Saggar Firing

Posted On July 6, 2007 Comments Off

This Ceramics Monthly Handbook reflects the keen interest in pit firing and related techniques. The artists included here were carefully selected to illustrate the wide range of approaches to barrel, pit, and saggar firing. Works ranging from wheel-thrown and coil-built pots to complex sculpture are tied together by a similarity in the firing process. Originally published in 2001, Barrel, Pit, and Saggar Firing is now available as a downloadable PDF. Imagine what ancient practitioners of firing would think of your easy computer access to such a wealth of creative ideas?

Exploring Electric Cover

Exploring Electric Kiln Techniques

Posted On July 1, 2007 0 Comments

This book is a must-read for anyone involved in creating ceramics with an electric kiln. It will provide inspiration for your creative journey and will help you discover the virtue and versatility of the electric kiln.