Product Code: BKLFB

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Name Low-firing and Burnishing

Because low-firing is the most basic of all ceramic techniques, it really treats all your senses. Using just about the lowest possible technical setting, you submit your work to flames and smoke giving you a sense of what the ancients felt when they used fire to create their primitive works. Both ancient cultures and contemporary potters have used low-firing to great effect, adding slips and burnishing pieces to create finishes not possible with any other firing method. Whether using an old garbage can, a pit in the ground, or a bonfire, low-firing is accessible to anyone with an outdoor space. Low-firing and Burnishing provides step-by-step practical information focusing on various approaches to low firing and methods for creating natural finishes.

Potters who burnish are often asked 'what glaze is that?' by curious admirers of their work. Non-potters naturally assume that all pottery is glazed, and the glossy surface of a burnished pot seems like a different and intriguing sort of glaze. Though glazed pottery can be brighter and more colorful, a burnished pot has a glow from within and a warmth that glazed pottery doesn't have. The difference that non-potters sense without knowing it — and which fascinates potters — is that the surface of a burnished pot doesn't wear a coat hiding the clay itself from view. Glaze is glossy and reflective, but the reflecting surface consists of a millimeter or so of glass covering the clay. Underneath this layer of glaze the rough stony clay is always perceptible, even if not always visible.

A sensuous surface
A burnished pot can have a surface just as glossy and reflective as any glaze, but behind this glorious surface there is no hidden roughness. Even the feel of a burnished pot is seductive. While a glazed pot feels hard and cold, a burnished pot seems warm and almost soft to touch. Potters who burnish get used to seeing people handle the pots, turning them in their hands and stroking the surface. This is a common and unconscious response to the sensuousness of burnished pottery.

Burnished pottery in history
The archaeological remains of many civilizations bear a resemblance – ancient pottery from China or the Mediterranean region almost seems more closely related in form and decoration to native African or Native American pottery, than to modern pottery from those regions. Now that modern pottery has come full circle to rediscover the beauty of burnished pottery, the history of unglazed pottery around the world is of interest to the modern ceramic artist. You'll find the history of low-fired work from China, the Mediterranean, Africa and North and South America both informative and inspirational.

About burnishing
There are two methods of burnishing a pot: rubbing the clay with a polished stone or other smooth object, and coating the pot with terra sigillata and rubbing it with a soft material such as a chamois leather. While using a stone is more time consuming and takes a lot of practice, it can produce a high degree of sheen. Discover how this technique is done by the traditional style of the potters of the American Southwest and also at burnishing stoneware/high-fire clay, burnishing a high-talc earthenware clay, burnishing leather-hard or black-hard clay, burnishing on the wheel, burnishing tools, types of clay to use.

Burnishing with terra sigillata
Terra sigillata means 'sealed earth' and comes from the name of a type of Roman pottery mass-produced around the first century AD. But the Romans copied the Greek technique used in their famous black and red pottery for hundreds of years before that. Here is a complete guide to making and applying terra sigillata, recipes, and troubleshooting.

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Softcover | 112 Pages