Mary Kaun-English
Firing
PIT FIRING

Mary Kaun English does not use glaze on her work. Her pieces are fired by the ancient method of Pit Firing. The pieces are handmade and are bisque fired in an electric kiln to 850C - 900C. This firing strengthens the work, allowing it to withstand the extreme temperature changes in the pit; at this temperature the clay is still porous, allowing the smoke to impregnate the surface.

The prepared work is placed in a pit, in the ground, on top of a bed of sawdust. Organic material such as pine cones, seaweed, banana skins etc... are placed around and on top of the work. A bonfire of locally sourced wood is built on top. After 20-30 minutes of burning the pit is covered with corrugated sheet metal and left to burn overnight. Once the pots are cool enough to handle they are removed from the pit, cleaned and waxed. The marks on the pieces are made from the coloured smoke penetrating the porous clay.

For the last six years Mary has facilitated a pit-firing event annually during the St Ives September Art Festival on Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall. Please visit www.stivesseptemberfestival.co.uk for more information.


Studio