Burnished and smoked pots feel silky smooth and warm to the touch. I first saw and held in my hands such a piece in Santa Fe. The experience was an inspiration ... Ever since I have been experimenting with various techniques and materials to recreate that wonderful tactile quality and harmony of shape and surface.
My pots are not glazed. The smoothness and sheen is the result of repeated, controlled rubbing i.e. burnishing, while the pot is drying. The tools I use are simple : a teaspoon, polished stones, patience and plenty of time. The bone dry pots are mirror smooth and must be handled with great care to preserve the surface. At this stage they are ready to be fired.
To achieve lustrous blacks and deep browns the pots are fired slowly, embedded in smouldering sawdust for a day or two.
I also fire my pots in a traditional kiln and expose the surface to smoke afterwards, to produce dramatic flashes, polished wood effect, or patterns created with the help of smoke ... the possibilities are limitless.
Fire and smoke bring the element of spontaneity, unpredictability and excitement which complements the disciplined and highly controlled process of shaping and burnishing .