Smoke firing uses the nature of smoke, fire and heat to create blooms of colour and distinctive markings across the surface of the clay. The clay is still porous after the initial firing in an electric kiln as it doesn’t reach the temperature needed to fully vitrify. This is important so that, once placed in the fire, the smoke and carbon from the flames can get into the surface and produce these beautiful effects. I use a number of colourants such as salt, copper wire and various oxides to influence the appearance but after that it’s a completely unpredictable, natural process. It is this variation and spontineity that I love so much about this technique.
Firstly I bundle the pots into tin foil saggars with different combustibles or colourants.
These are then placed into the bonfire or pit, depending on which type of firing I am doing. The fire is set alight and kept ablaze for around four hours by regularly adding more branches and leaves.
The fire is then left to cool naturally over a few hours.
When all that is left is embers, but there is still a real heat, I cover the pots in the ashes and place corrugated iron over them to slow the cooling process.
After around an hour or so the process is complete and I can carefully dig out the pots.
Each one is then washed by hand to reveal the incredible surface markings and patterns left by the fire.
To see more of the finished ceramics click here.