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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Flames from The Sawdust

My first sawdust firing was a grand success!
I fired the pots yesterday. Being October, I was waiting for a day I had time to do this and dry enough. I started a fire in my grill the day before to heat up the wet bricks and had the fire blazing all day. The pots are made of local Red Clay. I had made some of them on my treadle wheel and some of them by coil. Most decorated with shells. They were plenty dry, but I placed them on the grill over new hot coals the next morning to heat them up and remove moisture. My bricks I had mortered with my stoneware clay earlier this summer and they have dried and heated up over the summer BBQ's to set the clay pretty well. I wanted the mortar to be temporary. I can easily knock these apart to make a new kiln or use them for something else.

When the coals yesterday were down to a small glowing log, I raked it around and set 3 inches of very dry sawdust on the bottom. I then carefully placed the pots about 2" apart, bigger ones on the bottom filled with sawdust and small pots or whimseys. 3 more inches of sawdust on top and then another layer of smaller pots. I kept them about 3 inches from the walls with 4 inches of sawdust on the very top, a layer of crumpled newspaper and my burning piece of log. Soon the paper caught on fire and the sawdust began to burn and smoke. I placed a tin lid on the top and left it to smolder.

16 hours later, the next morning at 8:00, the sawdust had burned down with only a dotting of hot sawdust embers and the pots were cool enough to handle. And here are the results.

The pots are still fragile. The smoke and carbon have turned most of them black, but the effect is quite pleasing. And they are hard.

The last photo has a spash of yellow. This is where I actually put a diagonal band of yellow vanadium slip. Most of any colors I applies has disapeared or turned black.
Now I have to wait till spring for another attempt... glazing in saggers perhaps?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So Many Photos And So Little Space! For more photos of this years Big E go to my Flickr page...
Little Isobel came along this year in her new dress I made (while at the fair). It's always nice to see my old friends, many who I only see once a year, both at the Village and the visitors.

Met many new, interesting folks this year. The kids had a great time making marbles. Marbles are so simple... easy to make with many games to make up... but they are also a history lesson too. Clay marbles have been made everywhere and from long, long ago. They are decorated with colored clays, fired and then make durable toys. Of course many have been lost during play and the old ones still turn up in peoples homes and yards.

This year, a source of fun and interest for our reenactor group was a box of buttons brought in by Guy. Yes, we had a great time sorting our hundreds of brass, bone, shell buttons, along with many other little oddities; hindges, pins, toys, clips, needles. Many were very old. Some of the buttons were very interesting. Not much source of fun for everyone, but for those of us interested in history, this little box brought on many a conversation about the old days. I made an impression of some of the buttons in a clay bat and will be used as stamps in my pottery in the future.

Now back at home, I am battening down the hatches for the upcoming snow and ice. Closing off the "Cellar Pottery Cave", getting out the quilts, cleaning out the pellet stove and buying some new thermals! Its going to be 30 degrees tomorrow morning!

I made over 700 mini pots at this fair alone. Now I have to sort, fire and glaze them all... with tweezers! Started potting in the "Cellar Pottery Cave" yesterday. I am working in the cellar of my old house this winter. Half the floor is still dirt. With the dirt and hugh stone walls it is like working in a cave.

Pottery classes start next week at Goshen Center School. We do an afterschool pottery project for one week each month. We have a great time and kids come up with some wonderful pottery. You can see some on my web site...