sawdust firing

This tag is associated with 12 posts

Pit Firing Community Project – The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling.

Last week I facilitated a pit firing workshop for a community project which is part of a group exhibition commemorating the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling. One of the exhibiting artists Heather Hesterman is creating an installation consisting of ceramic pinch pots en masse and plants referencing Walling’s love of constructing gardens. The pots have been made by Hesterman’s friends, acquaintances and members of the community, both adults and children, coming together to make approximately 300 palm sized pots.

During Hesterman’s research for the project she discovered an anecdote found in Walling’s writings, indicating Walling’s joy of witnessing a friend hand-build a small pot from clay, fire it and then fill it with the local native plant species, Thomasia petalocalyx.  This event together with ‘The Chalet’, which Walling had built along the Great Ocean Road, being burnt down, along with 2 other residences, inspired Hesterman’s methodology in developing the installation.

Part of that methodology involved the firing of the clay pots made during the project – enter a pit firing! As regular readers may know usually when I pit fire I add lots of varying organic ingredients and wrap the pots in seaweed, gum leaves, copper wire and the like. This endows the finished pots with a vibrant dappled colour response. Hesterman, however, wanted the smoky greys and blacks of fire to be captured on the pot surfaces, so the pit was fired using only sawdust. The sawdust creates a higher likelihood of a reduction atmosphere in the pit allowing for carbonisation of the clay surface.

The firing was successful overall with results ranging from soft smoky greys through to strong oil slick blacks.

Lisa Byrne, Director of ArtSpace at Realm, Maroondah City Council, is curating a group exhibition The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling. The exhibition commemorates the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling with artists Heather Hesterman, Rebecca Mayo and landscape designer/construction Sam Cox.

The exhibition will be held at the gallery ArtSpace at Realm, Ringwood Town Square, 179 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood. 03 92984553, 19 Sept – 13 Nov 2017, with the official opening on Saturday 21 October 2-4pm.

More information can be round on the website

And now enjoy the pics of the sawdust firing process 🙂

Sunday Studio Visit

I missed last weeks Sunday Studio visit – sorry about that, excuses abound – ummm

Anyway this Sunday I am unpacking a bonfire tin saggar firing I did yesterday, and am happy with the results.

It is Spring here in Australia, and living on a rural property means cleaning up undergrowth and debris before the bushfire season, and it needs to be done before fore restrictions come in – so a bonfire it is. Whenever we have a bonfire I always make a few things to put into tin saggars – small pots, beads, pendants. You can check out some previous posts about this firing method here.

I use mostly sawdust in the saggars, so that most of the surfaces carbonise into a silky black colour. I also add copper and salt, and sometimes wrap things in copper wire – this can create subtle red, blues and greens on the surface… and this time I was lucky enough to achieve this on some of the beads.

I will be cleaning and polishing the beads during the week, and will share some detailed pics of the end results then. Eventually these beads will find their way onto my Etsy shop as necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

In the meantime here are a few pic of the process 🙂


Sunday Studio Visit: Pit Firing

Oh Dear…. a few days late again!!

Sunday was a bit of a busy day….. we visited friends on Sunday afternoon for a low key housewarming party, and didn’t get home till quite late!

The day before, Saturday, I did a pit firing to complete a few pieces I am thinking of entering into some upcoming ceramic awards, and had grand plans of unloading the pit on Sunday and writing my Studio visit blog post – but all I got in before we had to leave for the housewarming was a sneak peek, which I dutifully shared on Instagram.


Then yesterday, Monday, I had to go to Melbourne for a catch up dinner with my mum and my two adult sons, and in the process i just get around to getting anything much else done!!

So today, Tuesday, I am writing the blog post I wanted to share on Sunday – sorry for the delay!!

The artworks I had in the pit include a piece already accepted into the Manningham Ceramics Award, and two other pieces I am planning to enter into other awards whose deadlines are looming.

My pit is quite large, and I alter its size, depending on how much work I have to fire, with fire bricks. In this firing I also packed some smaller pieces (which make up one artwork) within sawdust in tin saggars as I wanted to get as much smoking/black firing as possible.

The colour responses I attained from the pit are not the best I have ever achieved, but the nature of pit firing is the lack of control and the random nature of the fire based on so many variables, such as the temperature, the season, the wood used, the clay used, the condition of the pit (where I live I can only do pit firings in Winter due to fire restrictions, and it can be really wet  cold where I live) and other combustibles introduced to the pit.

Overall, however, I am happy with the results – it is the nature of ceramics that one must be happy with what the kiln gods delver, otherwise you would go insane!! (well i would anyways)

Following is a short photo essay of the procedure I took for the day, but also check out the book I have written about pit firing (yes, unabashed self promotion!) available on Amazon and other online bookstores, plus some brick & mortar stores.




Cutting Edge: Masters of Contemporary Art

Where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday I was invited to exhibit in the Cutting Edge exhibition, and now I leave for the airport tomorrow night at 10pm – and I’ve not even started packing yet!

I intend to post images of my time in Italy on both my Facebook page and this blog, hopefully my ‘intention’ happens!

I am spending five weeks in Italy: the first two weeks in Florence for the duration of the exhibition, and then off to Rome. We have friends in Rome, and we will use this as base to do day and overnight trips elsewhere in Italy. We will also have Christmas and New Years in Rome, so that is exciting!

Below are images of the works I am exhibiting. The exhibition is a group exhibition of twenty international artists.

All works are for sale – so hopefully… fingers crossed.

Planet Earth: handbuilt earthenware ceramic.

Collage: mixed media wall piece

Nature: wheelthrowm and handbuilt pit fired ceramic

Voyage: Mixed media wall piece

Blackfiring: Saggar Bonfire

My most recent saggar bonfire was two weeks ago on the 16th November… we needed to clean up the underbrush from the property for the summer season, and whenever that happens I don’t pass up the opportunity to put some small works into the fire.

I am very happy with the outcomes, and will be making jewellery with the finished beads once I return from Italy. I am also happy with the little experimental teabowls I fired, and will definitely be doing more of those little gems.

The photo gallery below shows images of the process and step by step descriptions of the process. Click on the image for a larger view.



Ceramic Jewellery Currently Listed on Etsy: 15% discount!

Currently I have a range of ceramic jewellery available in my Etsy store AND am having a 15% off EVERYTHING sale just in time for Mother’s Day.

All jewellery is handmade and fired to stoneware temperature, making it durable and scratch proof- with the exception of two saggar fired pieces: these have been coated in a hard floor wax to make the surface durable.

The nature of ‘handmade’ means that all jewellery is unique – no two pieces are ever alike. Unique custom orders can also be made to your specifications.

All jewellery comes packaged in a handmade felt jewellery pouch featuring recycled buttons: perfect to keep jewellery safe; equally perfect for gift giving.

Postage is FREE anywhere in Australia and only $8.00 anywhere else in the world (less for multiple purchases).

SO click on my Etsy store and buy now for Mother’s Day, birthdays … or for yourself!!

AND more importantly buy handmade!!

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Successful Day in the Studio

So, regular readers will remember a saggar bonfire firing I did a few weeks ago: finally assembled the jewellery pieces that emerged from that firing today!! AND am very happy with the results 🙂

Of course photography is hard, but if you look closely at these pieces, some exhibit a slight “oil slick” finish on the surface which I consider highly prized.

The largest pendent on the right has been detailed with some recycled tin which I use in big corrugated iron sheets to cover my pit firings.

I also assembled some earrings that I fired in my gas kiln last week: the earrings feature a beautiful stoneware dry barium glaze that exhibits a range of tonal variety depending on the glaze thickness. I am also very happy with them.

This jewellery will eventually make it my Etsy store, unless it sells beforehand: sales enquiries via this blog are welcome… as I have previously stated on this blog: I don’t want to have to work in a supermarket, so support artists 🙂


Fine Art America Prints: you can buy them now!!

I have had a few images on Fine Art America for a little while now, mainly of my ceramic environmental installations and macro shots of the textured surfaces of my ceramic sculptures.

Most recently I have added some images of “fire” captured during the saggar bonfire of jewellery beads I did just before Christmas.

These images can be purchased as canvas prints, fine art prints, acrylic prints, framed prints and greeting cards.

This may all sound a bit capitalist & selling my soul… but I’d rather work and make money as an artist than get a job in a supermarket… so advertise, advertise, advertise!!

If you’d like me NOT to get a job in a supermarket check out the Fine Art America site…

The following images illustrate  the “fire” shots most recently added 🙂


Saggar Bonfire Firing: The Process and the Results

I haven’t posted for a little while: Christmas, New Year hecticness (if that’s a word- it is now). So, the following slideshow illustrates the process of a pyromania exercise I posted a little before Christmas:

Living on a 10 acre rural property some summer bush fire maintenance was called for, so a burn off was the order of the day: as a ceramisict this is an opportunity to go pyromaniac!! As it just happened I had some hand rolled beads in the studio… lets saggar fire them !! GREAT!! The slideshow below shows the process… descriptions of the process photos can be found on my Facebook page.

I intend to make more beads and fire them this way. They will eventually find their way to my Etsy store …

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I am not a Pyromaniac!! Just a Potter…

Last night I experimented with a small above ground bonfire firing in which I placed some hand rolled jewellery beads into an old coffee can used as a saggar. The following slideshow features some nice pictures of the the “fire”.  Photos of the actual saggar bonfire process will be posted soon…

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This work by Dawn Whitehand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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