Hampas ng La Paz: “First Open Firing” (Part 5)

Dry clay melts quickly when soaked in water. What makes it stronger and functional? Heating clay with fire. Clay matures through the fire as the temperature in the furnace rises. At 900 degrees celsius, the earthy material becomes porous.

With all the pieces that were made from the workshop at Villa Kiana Inn, and from the locals’ homes in La Paz, San Narciso, Zambales, we’re all ready to light up some fire by the beach!

July 26th, 2013 was the day before the skimboarding competition at the Villa Kiana beachfront. I helped the locals, bring all their clay works to the firing area.

The first open firing of terracotta works in San Narciso, was hosted by Mang Ramon, a third generation Potter from San Felipe, Zambales. He came with three of his sons and his grandson, Charles, who is very passionate with forming clay at the age of four years old.

The flooring is established first, before loading the area with bone dry, terracotta works.

1072449_10201868461977882_1844509335_oHere are the materials we used for the open firing: Sand, fired red tiles, bamboo, hay, wood chips, wood ash, lighter/matches, and pots. The sand was taken from the abundance of the material right by the beach. The red tiles are from Mang Ramon’s workshop. The bamboo, wood ash, and hay, were all collected from a nearby “bukid”.

1077862_10201868464337941_859659464_oAfter loading all the pots and covering them with hay, Jason (Mang Ramon’s son), lights up the fire. (Photo by Victor Guerrero)

798173_10201868481178362_1985893634_oThe flames of fire danced as it burns the combustible materials covering the pots. We all watched with excitement, as we hear the burning of hay. (Photo by Victor Guerrero)

1097163_10201868484858454_1544670427_oIt was raining for a few days before the firing day. Worry started to get in the way but we all had our hopes high in experiencing good weather last July 26th, 2013. Thankfully, our prayers were answered. It drizzled a little bit but it was good enough to keep us cool while firing the pots. (Photo by Victor Guerrero)

IMG_8444The first open firing in La Paz was a success because of all the people who came and helped: San Felipe Potters, Clay Ave Students, locals and skimboarders.

May this be the beginning of many firings to come in this town. May the fire that was finally ignited here, continue to burn in forms of interest, passion, great skill, good results, and a good source of livelihood for the locals here.

IMG_8442I met Mang Ramon while doing a road trip in Zambales in my early 20’s. I didn’t knew then, that more than a decade after, I would invite him to San Narciso, to teach us how to do open firing with terracotta clay. He didn’t think twice and shared his knowledge to us.

Thank You, Mang Ramon, for teaching us how to fire terracotta works. Your generosity with your knowledge and time, has encouraged us all to continue working hard with clay and fire. You are a good example for all of us.

Up next: See the fired works of the locals!




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