Barbara Barnes’ art vessels reflect a keen appreciation for nature in shapes and colors. She uses interactive glazes, often firing multiple times until she gets the results that mimic the hues of earth, flora, fire and water combined. She is an avid gardener and often wanders her gardens and woods for inspiration.
Barnes operates Emerald Falls Pottery. There, she creates her stoneware vessels and teaches wheel-thrown pottery. She specializes in terra cotta garden vases, flower vases, unique art deco-style pottery and primitive pit-fired vessels. She also creates unique table-top water fountains.
All are hand thrown and most are made of high-fire stoneware, which she fires in an electric kiln multiple times until she gets the effects that are unique to her wares. She has shown her work at many Pennsylvania and New York state gift shops and galleries. She has been juried for many major arts festivals in Pennsylvania and New York.
To download Barbara’s Pottery Review, click here Emerald Falls Pottery Review
Primitive Pit-Fired Vessels
Earth, wind and fire create the wondrous look and feel of pit-fired vessels. Each vessel goes into the pit in the same manner. After the smoke and fire licks the sides of the vessel weaving its magic hues, it becomes a thrill with every completed pot.
The basic steps are simple, but are complicated by the forces of nature; the humidity, outside temperature and the sun or clouds can affect the overall appearance of each piece. It is desirable to fire one piece at a time, due to the chance of multiple explosions and cracking due to the stress the pot undergoes.
A pit is dug large enough to accommodate the wares and the materials used for the fire. The burnished bisque fired pottery made of stoneware or porcelain is placed on a bed of coals and then surrounded with combustible materials and set on fire. The fire burns inward and with careful attention and constant care the fire burns for four to six hours. The fire is smothered with sawdust. After overnight cooling, the charred vessel is washed and when it dries the pot is polished over and over again to a high satin sheen.
Images from Smoke
When Barbara is creating stoneware, she often will see images in the mottled, dark smudges left behind by smoke during the firing process. As she burnishes the pottery the images become more dominant, similar to shapes in clouds. You may not see the same thing Barbara does, but let’s give it a try. Below are several pots with images that Barbara sees. Can you see them too?
Care for a Pit-Fired Vessel
Treat the vessel as you would a wooden piece. Approximately every three months, with a soft dust cloth, dust and wax the surface with Pledge or wax. Much like raku pottery, pit-fired vessels are decorative only and are not water tight or food safe.