Smoke firing is a primitive technique of firing pottery. The pieces are hand built and, when leather hard, brushed with a coloured slip and burnished to create a sheen. In some instances, terra sigillata, a very fine particle clay slip, is also applied to the pots and burnished to give a soft finish. The pieces are bisque fired at a low temperature, which leaves them porous and enables the smoke to penetrate the clay.
The patterning on the pottery is created by applying a variety of materials (string, netting, lace, tape, etc.) with a mixture of sand and clay slip. The material is removed prior to firing, leaving a pattern for the smoke to enter the clay. Accents of acrylic sprays may also be applied at this stage. The pots are then placed in a barrel filled with a variety of organic materials (i.e., sawdust, wood shavings, seaweed), as well as salt, and oxides; the material is then ignited. The pieces are left to smoke in the barrel until all the organic matter is consumed.
After the pots are removed from the barrel, they are scrubbed clean and beeswax is applied to create a soft sheen. Smoke fired pottery is too porous to hold water and because the pieces are unglazed they are not recommended for food. Enjoy them as unique decorative pieces.