Saturday, 14 November 2009

Homemade Ash Glaze

It’s been over a week already since Bonfire Night. When it isn’t pouring with rain or blowing a gale (like it is today) we usually mark November the fifth with a little bonfire in our back garden. Out come the sparklers, some bowls of hot stew and a bottle of wine.

I mention this because I’ve recently thought about making my own homemade ash glaze. So this year I decided to collect the ashes from our bonfire ready to do some experimenting. I’ve heard that the type of wood used to make the ash makes a difference to the glaze; although at the moment I can only work with what I’ve got. We usually just burn whatever’s combustible which includes huge piles of prunings from our overgrown garden and the odd bit of unwanted plank. This year the fire consisted mostly of freshly cut rosemary, some donated logs from a Eucalyptus, a pile of green whips from a pair of unidentifiable copse-like trees at the back of the garden and some out-of-date paperwork. Not entirely scientific then.

I also decided it would be a good idea to put a couple of pieces of bisque ware and green ware straight into the fire. Like a pit firing. No glaze of course – just straight into the red embers with a pair of tongs at the end of the evening and left to keep cooking overnight. These were just small things like buttons which I half expected to never find again. However, a day or so later (it rained the next day) I found this little button (pictured above) peeking out of the ashes along with four other pieces that survived intact.

As for the ashes, these had been fairly well washed by the rain. I’ve no idea if they will be suitable yet. They have a lot of carbon in them. In fact I may have inadvertently made myself a batch of charcoal instead as many of the green twigs have become nice little drawing sticks! Anyway, I’ve collected the best of it into a bucket which I’m storing in the shed while the weather’s so bad. The next task is to sift through it all and separate out all the chunky bits. I shall report back my findings when they are found…

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