Upper School 3D Artists Create Sculptures Through Ancient Pit-Firing Technique—See Film!

Students in Upper School 3D art classes created sculptures using a technique that dates back 30,000 years—firing their ceramics in a fire pit at Doheny State Beach.

Through this outdoor, experiential field study, students learned more about the ancient firing method and how past civilizations used pit firing to create tools and artwork before the invention of electric kilns, which fire ceramics quicker and more predictably. The students, who were accompanied by Upper School art teachers Jesse Standlea and Amanda Albanese, are enrolled in advanced study 3D design, AP 3D art and design, and intermediate clay handbuilding.

Students prepared the fire pit by lining it with stones and organics before the sculptures were placed inside the hole with dried seaweed and sawdust layered on top.

A large woodpile was constructed on top of that, which was ignited. The resulting flames and the ensuing coal bed vitrified the clay, and each art piece had a unique and unpredictable look and coloring influenced by the fire’s fuel and the flames itself.
The firing took several hours, and students used the time to create observational nature artwork and reflect and learn more about the pit firing process and history.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675