Thursday, February 19, 2009
Earth from the bottom of the Earth
The dark gray "cake batter" you see here is in fact mud from 8,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, just off Antarctica. It's freshly sieved - removing a bit of sand from it - in preparation for making a slip or glaze to test in this upcoming firing.
We are blessed here at this end of Cape Cod with scientists who travel the planet and sometimes bring back exotic things from faraway places. In this case, a friend of my scientist friend Betsy Gladfelter gave her about ten pounds of this mud and she passed it on to me. Joan Lederman, a potter in Woods Hole (thesoftearth.com), has made a career of glazing pots with undersea sediment brought back by scientist friends. Her work is pretty amazing, with the best muds looking very much like dendritic wood ash glazes.
I have no idea at this point what this stuff will do when fired to cone 10 (2350 F). I do know that by drying it to the point of being able to work it, I've been able to make small balls and a couple of crude beads that fire safely to bisque temperatures of cone 07 (almost 1800 F). The black or deep gray mud turns an iron-ish red/tan. The higher glazing temperatures in all likelihood will melt it, but we'll see how that comes out. It could be wonderful, or it could be terrible. We'll see in a few days.