How to Care for Pit/Barrel Fired Pottery

In an effort to help my customers take the best care of their pit fired work I decided to put together this little how to care guide. Pit fired pottery isn’t like functional glazed ceramic work. It is meant to be purely decorative and is not supposed to get wet. It is recommended that you simply dust when needed and once a year you can wipe the pot down with a polish or wax. This protects the surface of the pot from absorbing water from the atmosphere and also gives it a nice fresh look. I always wipe down my pots after they come out of the pit and give them a thin covering of wax before putting them up for sale.

*This process can be done as often as once a year, and is optional. Be sure to ventilate the area well.

1.  Gather your pit fired pottery, a clean white rag (I used a piece of an old sock), rubber gloves, and some polish or wax. I have been using Howard’s Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner (I have heard of people using other kinds of floor wax and polish such as Johnson’s or Butcher’s Floor Paste Wax, but I don’t have any personal experience using anything other than Howard’s Feed-N-Wax).

2.  Squeeze some of the polish onto the rag.

3.  Wipe the polish onto the pot and work it in until you’ve covered the entire pot with a nice even layer. You can add more polish onto the rag if you run out while wiping the pot. If you can fit your hand comfortably inside the pot it is safe to cover the inside with a layer of wax. If you can not fit your hand inside the pot it is best to leave the inside un-waxed.

4. After the wax has dried you might want to take a clean, dry cloth and wipe the pot once over to rub off any excess wax.

*If the pot has carved decoration be careful not to build up too much wax in the recessed areas. You can use a cotton swab to help clean and finish up any detail work after waxing.

It’s really a simple process and doing this once a year should keep your pot protected from corrosion and looking beautiful.