Monday, 11 November 2013

Baking clay pots in the log burner

Now..I know this subject is not going to get many people excited but I am hopping around on one foot with anticipation..I am about to have a go at firing some very crude pieces of formed clay in my fab old log burner..well why not! So long as the clay was as dry as possible and therefore less likely to explode....

My 93 year old father Ned, is bed ridden and lives in what used to be the garage. No it's not like being shut under the stairs.. It has been converted to provide him with a bedroom and a self contained little unit for him and my brother Chris who is his full time carer.

He has a very restrictive way of life as he had a massive stroke some eight years ago and through macular degeneration he can't see and his hearing is very poor..so there is not a lot he can do. But he used to an architect and loved to paint with oils and water colours and gained a lot of pleasure from just making things creatively. One of the loveliest things he made was a whole wall of beautiful blue rustic tiles for his own kitchen and all of the pots for pansies that he grew for my sister's wedding. So he used to be a do-er.

We bought a big lump of potters clay and set about having a go at fashioning a few crude pots not easy when you've only got one hand that works...however between us we came up with a couple of quirky looking pots...and they have been sitting on top of his bookcase gathering dust..good side is they are thoroughly dry.
Wonky pots maybe but really rather lovely




They were pretty much bone dry but as I don't have my own kiln I thought they should have a little extra drying before braving the log burning process....so I put them into an old biscuit tin which I put an inch or so of table salt in..Ned's idea he thought that as we don't have any glazes they might pick up a bit of the salt into a glaze if we could get the necessary heat. 

So into the biscuit tin and then popped into the Rayburn and turned up to full heat. They went in on a cool setting to avoid thermal shock and sat there getting toasty for a couple of hours or so.

I remembered I had also made a clay hand on a coat hanger armature a year or so ago...when I was last making puppets. I just wondered if it might fire and it was already cracking it could hurt to include it in the experiment.











This the is the massive log burner..the only working form of heating in the house. When this is banked up you need to get naked it's so hot..and on top is one of my son's pieces of sculpture based on..an atomic explosion..on a domestic and entirely peaceful level it makes a really effective bronze radiator..


Oven warmed biscuit tin containing the little pots is placed in the bed of the fire along with the hand and the kindling is set alight..I thought it might be important to let them heat up from the beginning of the fire being lit.


Half way through and things look ok..no sign of salt melting to form a glaze.

T
Spooky looking hand in the flames



Piled in some more logs and sat back to enjoy the heat..at this point I could have put some wood chips or thin pieces inside the tin to blacken and smoke the pots but decided to leave that until I could see how the whole thing had gone without.

They came out pretty black as it was but the salt didn't get hot enough to melt and form a glaze.

I have started making beads too which is so easy and great fun..hope to make a few strings before Christmas.