Thursday, May 20, 2004

Black pottery revived from oblivion

"Lithuanian sculptors are imitating the primitive techniques used to make black pottery in precisely the same way that people made their earthenware some 8,000 years ago in Babylon, Persia, China and Egypt. But unlike modern ceramic techniques, the production of black pottery still employs methods that were available to ancient civilizations. Moreover, as the name of the art implies, black ceramic objects always come out in one color due to the smoking process they undergo.

Molded works of clay are moved into an outdoor furnace where pieces are burned for up to 15 hours until the temperature reaches 970 degrees Celsius. When logs of pine are thrown into the sweltering furnace, the smoke produced dyes the surface of clay with a grayish black color. Sometimes grass or manure may accompany the pine to ensure this unique tone. To keep the furnace airtight, the artists cover it with dirt and keep it in the ground for a night. Just as it did thousands of years ago, the entire process takes up to 24 hours to complete. "