cochise college pit fire party – 2011   7 comments

Posted at 7:18 pm in Uncategorized

firemen in foreground and flammable materials for pit fire in background.

I’m doing some catching up on posts that I meant to put together over a month ago. One of the reasons that I arrived in Bisbee a little earlier than usual this season, was to attend the fifth annual Cochise College Pit Fire Party on November 10, 2011. A pit fire is a method of firing ceramics in outdoor pits. Bisque fired pottery with glaze applied, are arranged in the bottom of a large pit, then covered over with flammable materials such as paper and wood – everything from sticks, to wooden pallets. This year’s firing pit was about 185 feet long and 4 feet wide and serpentine in shape. You can see the unlit materials above the pit in the above photo (click on all photos for larger views). The fire becomes quite large and extremely hot, so firefighters were in attendance for the entire evening.

Cochise College rodeo team riders gather to set the pit fire ablaze with burning brands.

A number of activities took place throughout the evening — there was a marquis tent where you could get free soup or chili to fill the ceramic bowls which were given to each visitor who paid five dollars to become a Friend of the Cochise College Art Department. Several local bands provided musical entertainment, and Flam Chen entertained with fire dancers and acrobats. Around dusk, members of the Cochise College rodeo team cantered up to the pit and circling around a couple of times, threw flaming brands onto the combustible materials to set them alight.

fire beginning to burn its way along the length of the pit

Once lit, the fire grew immense in short order. As the fire burnt its way along the length of the pit, the heat given off was quite extraordinary.

Fire dancers and acrobats performing near the fire.

Pyrotechnic acrobats and dancers of the Flam Chen performing troupe, entertained those gathered to watch the progress of the fire.

Later in the evening, the acrobats led visitors to the stage area where they performed for awhile before handing over the stage to the musicians.

A large ceramic sculpture was fired inside of an interesting sawdust-fired kiln that was set up and tended by W. Lowell Baker, Professor of Art, at the University of Alabama (see below). I stood watching how the fire was supplied with sawdust. Quite fascinating. The heat generated by this kiln was pretty awesome. I didn’t stay all evening, but did put in a couple of successful bids in the silent auction fundraiser. Next post, I’ll put up some photos of the pieces I brought home from the evening event.

Written by bev wigney on December 30th, 2011