Saturday, 17 September 2011

4. Winter Draws On.

Hi potters and friends,
The sun shone brilliantly on the Food and Drink Festival last weekend which brought lots of visitors to our town.

Our Pump Room Gardens, Leamington Spa

Alan and I bought freshly baked bread, Morbier cheese from the French stall and the fantastic Hog and Hop sausages that have just been created by our local butcher. 
But since then autumn has suddenly descended with early morning mists and long dewy shadows stretching across the lawn. Leaves are falling and collecting in the pond which will keep me busy for a while but happily the migrating birds have started to appear on the bird-feeder. 

Our garden, early September. The last of summer days.

 However, our resident robin isn't so thrilled. He sits in wait on the apple tree then launches a ferocious attack as soon as an unsuspecting traveller dares to drop by for breakfast.

And here he is, last spring, standing guard .

Alan has just done a check on our log situation. Frighteningly low is the verdict. As our winters get colder and the energy bills get bigger log-burning stove sales have soared. But we not only get heat and a red, cosy glow, we also get the potters' friend .....ASH!  And ash means......GLAZE.
But even if you or a friend don't have a stove you can always burn wood in the garden as long as you don't take soil with it when you collect it as that will ruin your glaze.
My ash glaze was made from the ash tree - other wood will produce a different glaze, which is why it's such an exciting process.  Mine has a soft, creamy, satin look that I love.   

Cream ash glaze on the lower half prevents my tenmoku glaze splashed with margarite from running all over the kiln shelf.

Here's my recipe :                     40%   Ash of you choice
                                                  40%   Feldspar Potash
                                                  20%   Ball Clay
To give it some colour you can add small amounts of oxide.
And here's what you do;

1.  Collect a good half bucket of ash and add water and give it a good stir. Lots of stuff you don't want will float to the surface. Skim this off.
2. Repeat this washing process with fresh water a couple more times.
3. After the last decanting you'll be left with a thick, horrible slurry. I pour this into a plastic bowl and leave it to dry.
4. Mix with the two other ingredients, add water and voila!
But make sure you wear rubber gloves and wear a mask as the ash and the liquid are highly caustic and can be a bad irritant.
Give it a try.
Happy potting folks.

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