Dasha Kalisz

I was introduced to pit firing while enrolled in my first ceramic class in Lake Tahoe, California, in 1993. It amazed me that fire could imprint clay and leave beautiful rustic and organic patterns on the ceramic’s surface. I was inspired to use my vessels to record the path of the flame and smoke.

The surface and the forms of the pit-fired vessels are an important part of recording the fire’s path. The forms are created with porcelain, and I either use the potter’s wheel, or hand built the pieces.  I create my forms while thinking about how the fire will interact with them.  A process I use to create some of my work is stacking the vessels on top of each other to create height.  The stacking process is a way to mirror the shape of the “kiln” the tall-stacked pieces record the path of the fire as it burns from the top of the kiln downwards.  For the fire to imprint, its path, the clay surface needs to be burnished, which is a high polish created with the back of a metal spoon.