as demonstrated by Judy Armstrong and Jan Barnes
This type of firing was originally a Native American technique, although many other cultures have used similar techniques, where greenware or bisque ware is placed in a shallow pit and covered with twigs and branches, then lit and allowed to burn down. Such a firing can reach temperatures of around 1500o F (800o C). It was revived and popularized in the 20th C by American studio-potter Peter Voulkos. In this variation, slip-coated paper covers the cone, allowing for a hotter burning. It probably also slows the firing down a bit since it dampens the palings and also creates some reduction by reducing the airflow, thereby producing richer colors on the ware. Some tepee firers put up to 20 layers of slip-coated paper around their teepees, which often remain standing after all the wood has burned away. Using only 2-3 layers, it tends to collapse gently down onto the ware.
The reason we call it “tepee” instead of “teepee” is because the different method we use. Our way of tepee is a variant on the paper kiln which has many layers of paper and slip and which is sometimes left standing when the firing has finished. It just depends on the layers of paper and slip the artist feels gets the best results.