Pit-Firing & Progress on “Hombres de Arcilla” Exhibit

Hombres de Arcilla Men of Clay Ceramic Masks by Visual Artist Alberto Villalobos Bronx NYC NY

Mask wrapped in copper wire from old internet cables

I’ve been busy getting ready for my “Hombres de Arcilla” (Men of Clay) exhibit at The Point Campus here in the Bronx. One of the things I really like about working with clay is the chance to use natural materials. So when I first learned about pit-firing, I knew this was something I wanted to try.

Last summer, I had the chance to learn more about pit-firing and raku-firing with Barbara Reeley at Monroe Clayworks in Troy, New York. She taught me a lot about how even though pit-firing might seem simple, it can still yield beautiful results. Personally, I really like the look of the raw, unglazed finish that pit-firing gives. The organic matter that you add to the fire imparts flashes of color and shadows onto the piece that you wouldn’t get in a regular electric kiln.

This was my first attempt pit-firing by myself. So certainly I had an idea of what to do, but was unsure of what kind of results I would get. All of the pieces I put into this pit fire had previously been bisque fired, which is preferable but not required. The reason for bisque firing a piece before pit firing is to prevent cracks and other damage to the piece.

The results after pit firing

For this pit fire, I tried using many different kinds of organic materials including copper wire (recycled from old internet cables!), coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels, aluminum foil, and steel wool. I was surprised to see that the copper wire really gave me some fantastic flashes of pinks, reds and greens on one of my masks. I can’t wait to try that again this weekend!


By | 2017-04-13T15:55:34+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

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