Revisiting my first pit firing!

In anticipation of sharing more about a Pit Firing in November 2020, i wanted to share last year’s firing!

More on the 2020 firing coming soon!

What is a pit firing?

It is a pottery firing technique that I have been keen to try for some time. And I will be far from the first to do so. You see this is the oldest known method of firing pottery known to man. Pit fired pieces that have been found have been dated back to 29,000 to 25,000 BCE.

In order to prepare for my pit firing, there was the usual throwing of pots! This is the group I have chosen for the pit firing below:

Pottery for pit firing
Pottery pieces for pit firing

Another enjoyable step in this process was a mystical walk on the beach to gather combustible materials for my pit firing here:

Apparently anything saturated in salt has the potential for interesting effects. Thank you beach!

A more physically exerting step in the process was to dig this pit. This hole is about 2 feet deep.

Pit firing hole
Pit firing hole

After waiting two days for rain to pass, finally today, I was able to get my pottery and pit ready for firing. I had a small amount of copper wire hanging around, so I added that to two of the pots, and as you will see from the following pictures I also added some oxides. Aren’t the colours pretty? They kind of remind me of some of the colours in the Hindu festival Holi.

Pots in Pit for firing
Pots in pit for firing.

As you can see, I had a pretty roaring fire going. I just hope it got hot enough to create some interesting effects with what I added into my pit.

Pit firing on the go!

I slowly waited for the fire fuel to reach an ashen stage so that I could cover the pit.

Today I walk in the steps of the first potters and experience some of the magic of an ancient technique.


  1. How do you estimate the temperature? Is it just by ‘guessimate’ or expertise and experience? Is it important? How long to the pots stay in the pit? Sorry for bombarding you with questions. 🙂

  2. Wow that is very interesting as I was reading about Alex Matisse and his pottery being all the rage during the virus. Ya mugs and vases are just as amazing in my opinion 🙏🐕♒️👌🏿

  3. This is really interesting, I did not know the driftwood with its salt content could impact it! I’m surprised you don’t have to cover it to retain the heat, I’m guessing it’s hot enough as it is? How hot does it have to get for this to fire the pieces successfully, and how long do you have to keep it going for?

    1. It does get covered. The new post will have more details. We use a big metal saw blade and it stays in reduction overnight

      More to come!

  4. The oxides remind me of a close-up of the multi-coloured sand cliffs at Alum Bay on the isle of Wight, UK.
    Cant wait to see the results of this exercise, I’m sure they’ll be amazing!! 😀

  5. Very interesting post — I love learning about this most ancient way of firing pottery!
    I came to this post via the link in the Sept. 20, 2021 post “Lying in a Pit and Looking at the Sky.” (great title, by the way.) But where is the follow-up post to this one that shows the results of this firing? I very much want to see it! I’ve gone forward several posts from this one, and have not found it…

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