Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Sifting ash ... and other glaze requirements
I got down to the bottom of the barrel - literally - with a number of my glazes after the January firing. So, with an inch or less of glaze left in several of the buckets, I knew I would have to do a marathon ingredient-weighing session - and a similarly long mixing and sieving and bucket-washing session - before I could glaze the pots for this next firing. (I hate this part of the process, by the way ... hate it.)
Hence today's photo of the cinders and ash in the sifter. I get wood ash from Falmouth friends Mie Elmhirst and Diane Salter, and from Dee's sister Ellen in upstate New York. All the ash comes from their woodstoves and is mostly the result of burning hardwood. I sift out the cinders, bent nails and door hinges interspersed with the ash (Ellen's husband Russ will burn just about anything falling apart on their farm). If I do it in the studio, the place fills with a fine fog of ash, so I try to do it outside, where the wind will take away the lightest ash. That's what I did today, freezing my hands.
The ash is mostly used in my version of Phil Rogers's "Standard Ash Glaze" from his first book on ash glazes. Phil washes most of his ash, or at least he did when that book was released. But I found that washing ash was an aggravation, so I've been using it unwashed for more than 10 years. It runs a bit more than washed ash, but I double the amount of China clay in the recipe and that seems to keep the running under control. The glaze makes a lovely transparent celadon over my white B-mix stoneware, and a green and runny glaze on the more heavily grogged brown stoneware.
Onward to the Shinos ...