Mother & Child

$495.00

Mother & Child

$495.00

One of a kind functional pottery by Sumi Von Dassow

  • Pitfired pottery sculpture
  • Pit-fired pottery is unglazed and should not be used to hold water.
  • 10 inches tall with a 6.5 inch diameter.
  • Sumi lives in Beulah, CO.

Pit firing is a modern adaptation of age-old firing methods. In a pit dug two feet into the earth, unglazed pots are nestled in a bed of wood shavings sprinkled with salt and copper carbonate. Organic materials such as coffee grounds, banana peels and seaweed may be placed around the pots, as well as copper wire or steel wool. All these materials contribute color to the pots in the pit. The pots are then covered with scrap lumber and firewood (from fallen limbs and standing dead trees) which is lighted and allowed to burn for several hours, until the pots are blanketed with ash. Each pot is uniquely colored by fumes from the materials in the pit, patterned by the flow of air around it, and blackened by contact with smoldering fuel. Each pot has a story to tell, if one can only learn to read it.

The process of pit-firing is one of active collaboration with the elements of earth, wind, and fire. Once the wood is actively burning the pit is covered to retain its heat, while I watch the wind and direct an adequate air supply into the pit to avoid smothering the fire. At a high altitude the air has less oxygen, so it can be challenging to reach the 1400 degrees needed for the development of good color. The use of aspen and its cousins poplar and cottonwood is critical to achieving the desired temperature. Though the fast and hot fire tests pottery to the limit of its tolerance and contributes to a high breakage rate, the successful pots make the loss rate worthwhile. The warm reds and yellows that result from my collaboration with fire and air make each pot seem to embody the colors of autumn, a fitting reminder of the fallen limbs which helped create it.

1 in stock

Sumi von Dassow attended the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 1982-1984 and San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 1985-1987. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Art with an emphasis in Ceramics.

Sumi was Director of the pottery program at the Washington Heights Art Center of the Lakewood Heritage, Culture and Arts Program of the City of Lakewood in Lakewood, Colorado for 22 years. She taught pottery at all levels, including hand-building, wheel-throwing, glaze mixing and formulating, and pit-firing workshops. She mixed glazes and loaded and fired kilns. She built the mini wood kiln there and developed many of the glazes teachers and students use.

In 2021, Sumi moved to Beulah, Colorado and opened Beulah Valley Pottery at 8868 Grand Ave., Beulah 81023.

Sumi has been a frequent contributor to Pottery Making Illustrated Magazine since its inception in 1997. She has participated in the Denver Potters Association and Castle Clay shows each year since 1998. Sumi conducted annual pit firings for the City of Breckenridge from 2001 through 2015 and helped design and test the pit in the Breckenridge Arts District.