I did learn a few things about how to set up a firing more effectively by making more mistakes. First, make sure your wood is in small enough pieces. The first pit firing I did used fairly small pieces of kiawe that were a fourth the size of the largest pieces we used in this firing. The smaller pieces ignited more easily, the fire burned hotter, and burned down more quickly. The pieces of kiawe we used for this firing had been split but were still so big that they only smoldered through most of the firing. I removed some of them toward the end because they threatened to fall down on the pots and crack them. Second, make sure your wood is dry. We've been pit firing at Steve Martin's house in Kaneohe which is in one of the rainiest parts of Oahu. The wood had been left out in the open and was still very wet. This made it difficult to get the fire started, even with lots of kindling and even after I used quite a bit of lighter fluid. Because the fire never burned that hot, the pots turned out pretty dark again and didn't develop as much color or high contrast between color and white and black as some of my first pit fired pots. Third, don't use too much fine sawdust. Steve has some huge bags of fine sawdust that were given to him. They're so fine they're like flour. We put that on the very bottom to act as a base. We put coarser, fluffier sawdust on top of this and laid our pots down on that. Last time I didn't get a good jet black finish on the pots when I placed them on the fine sawdust, maybe because not enough air could get in. The lady who was firing with me, however, buried her dragon and other small pieces in fine sawdust. After the fire had been going for almost 5 hours, she dug around her pots to see how they were doing and a few inches down the sawdust hadn't even started to ignite and the bottom half of her pieces were still white. Maybe it would have burned down in time, but she dug around the pieces and exposed them more to air which caused the sawdust lower down to ignite and gave her a more even color. We then put small slivers of wood around the head and tail of her dragon which ignited, burned off some of the carbon, and made those areas a little lighter. Her goal had been for the dragon to be darker on the bottom half and lighter on the top half. With these adjustments we were able to accomplish this.