the barrel fire

Well, just finished the barrel firing and it was a lot of fun.  We started Saturday afternoon, and it burned out fairly fast but the embers glowed all night long.  We didn’t end up pulling stuff out until Sunday afternoon, and some of the pots were still hot.

Overall, I am quite happy with how things turned out.  About half the pots turned out as I thought they might, and half didn’t turn out at all.  In fact, a couple pieces will need to be fired again as some things didn’t burn but only melted to the pot.  A couple pieces also had some hairline cracks that weren’t there when we put the pots in the barrels.I definitely learned a lot and have many things I’d like to try differently next time I do a barrel fire.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to polish a couple of the pieces and post photos of the final products.  Until then check out the photos below to see how things went!

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5 thoughts on “the barrel fire”

  1. It looks like your first barrel firing was successful! Very cool. Do you know when you will be firing again? I cannot wait to see the next “batch” of pots.

  2. Nice pots. I love barrel firing. You mentioned that several pieces cracked or broke during the firing. I don’t know why I have had such good luck. Out of the many firings I’ve done I have only had 3 pieces crack. I don’t think it has much to do with the cool down time as to why they break. Luck always helps but I tend to believe it is my clay body that I use. I make my own clay but basically it is a cone ten stoneware clay body and I usually add some extra silica sand to the mix to help with the thermal shock. I also use the same clay body for all my raku firing. Good luck and keep the fires burning.
    Jeff G.

  3. Don’t know if you still use this website but I’m thinking about doing barrel firing this summer. Me and my friend are in high school and want to try it out this summer. Could you write a list all materials needed and the steps you need to take to prepare the pots for firing? Thank you.

    1. Hi Jack – One thing you’ll find is that barrel firing is a pretty crude and experimental process. You don’t need a lot of materials – I used an old barrel cut in half, but my first couple burns were done in a large wood pile. I usually wrapped my thrown (and usually burnished) pieces with newspapers, twine, maybe some copper wire, etc. Have fun experimenting with different things to produce weird effects on the pottery. I’ve tried dried out banana peels, coffee grounds, fertilizer, salt, etc. Tuck your pieces amongst the wood, and then light it up! I burned 4-6 pieces in a barrel, so plan on doing it a few times to experiment.

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