Friday, March 2, 2012

Using Ash: Accidental Innovation

When I first started looking at clay seriously I was enchanted by the use and appearance of ash glazes. I think of all the glaze techniques they do the most to highlight making clay objects through the process of inferno-like heat.

Ancient Ash

So I asked my friend Nancy Berliner to bring me some ash from her fireplace in New Hampshire. She brought me bagloads and I started using it right away. For a year or so I rolled ash into the terra cotta we used in the lab. I was quite happy with the results, though I fired at a much lower temperature (cone 04-about 1945 degrees F) than I needed. Here are a few examples of my work from that series:

Amorphophallus Model

Merry Tiles All in a Row

Ceramic Tower

Ceramic Shapes

A New Finish

You can see I didn't know what I was doing. It wasn't until I was at the "boot camp" residency at Medalta last year that I came to understand you need a much hotter kiln to melt the ash to get the glaze. Lucky for me I didn't fire these pieces hotter or they would have ruined our electric kiln at BU!

Dark and Light Forms on Rock

1 comment:

  1. I really like this low-fire, ash finish you achieved, Sam. I especially like the "split-tile" sculpture above. It adds a powerful aura to the work, and would be perfect if one were trying to create pieces with an ancient feel to them.