7. Traditional Firing Techniques for Ceramics
Gloria London [+]
Firing pots is the most risky stage of pottery manufacture. Traditional craft specialists who build pots by hand use a variety of kilns – soft temporary or hard permanent and pit or above-ground. They are highly successful. Pots that touch each other do not result in fire clouds. Smaller pieces can be stacked inside larger pots without resulting in fire clouds. Rate of loss is low for the Cypriot and Filipino potters observed in long-term fieldwork. Broken pots and sherds are scarce at production locations for many reasons, including sherd reuse and the overall low rate of misfires or wasters. The final firing color varies depending on placement in the kiln, temperature, and the length of firing. The work of a single potter or more than one often fires together in the same kiln for many reasons. If necessary, pots can be refired in a kiln to enhance their color or hardness without damage. Another reason to refire pots is to burn out foods absorbed by their porous walls. Given that pits and temporary firing platforms leave hardly any trace and given the dismantling of permanent kilns once a potter stops working, few will be available for archaeologists to excavate.