Primitive Firing Demonstration
1. 2nd period Ceramics class:
Meet at location with students. Students load pottery and newspaper into
trash can. Students place lid slightly off can and step away from can beyond
safety line. Teacher lights contents in can using long tapered candle or
lighter. Put up safety signs. Leave can to burn out. Students return to
2. It will take a full day for the can to burn out.
3. 8th period Ceramics class: check can...
A. If can has stopped burning (teacher checks-there should no longer be
smoke), pottery can be removed using safety gloves and goggles.
B. If can is still burning, recheck after school.
4. Once pottery has been removed place it on metal cart and take back to
room. Wash pottery carefully with water in metal sink.
5. Wash down can with waterhose to make sure fire is completely out.
6. Clean-up area.
1. Type of trash can and size: regular household size metal trash can with
2. Type of fuel for fire: newspaper/straw. NO OTHER FUEL IS NECESSARY.
3. How are you going to ignite the fire: matches or lighter.
4. Location: location should be away from main school traffic/play areas.
On pavement or cement. Behind building, away from windows and doors to
prevent smoke from entering building.
THE AREA BEHIND THE OLD GUIDANCE MODULAR, NEAR THE EXIT BY ROOM 16 WOULD BE
IDEAL. IT IS PAVED, AND I WOULD BE ABLE TO CHECK ON THE CAN EASILY THROUGHOUT
5. Safety Precautions: Students and teacher will have safety gloves and
goggles. Fire extinguisher should be in area. Area should be roped off, to
keep people away. Signs will be made. Teachers should be warned of event, so
that they know what is happening.
6. Can ventilation: lid is left slightly ajar all day.
7. How many students are involved: 8 in initial set-up. None for lighting.
2 to unload, 7 to watch unloading. 17 to wash off pottery
8. Estimated heat of fire: Intention is to start a smoking fire, to burn out
around the pottery creating the decorative effect. It is more important that
it smoke than burn. This is a small sized can, I estimate it will not take
longer than two hours to burn down, although the can will remain hot for the
I wrote this letter for the Principal. I remember that the Fire Inspector for
the district needed to be in on the time and date, just in case:
I am interested in doing a PRIMITIVE FIRING with my Ceramic students. I have
attached an article on this firing technique from School Arts magazine for
I have experience with this technique. If we can do it students will be able
to experience it first hand and have a better understanding of the concept. I
did this type of firing in college and when I taught Ceramics in Canastota,
New York a few years ago. Some information from their Insurance Agent is also
The firing would require a large metal garbage can with lid and a fire would
have to be set inside the can. The whole thing would take a day to complete.
I realize we might have to notify the fire department, and that in some areas
fires in trash cans are illegal.
Can we do this? Who do I need to speak to about setting it up?
Thanks for your help!