Test Firing the Native Clay – Failure and Success

Yesterday I posted about cleaning the native clay and the test firing I planned to do once they dried out enough.

I’m too impatient. I should have waited another day, maybe even longer because the clay was pretty wet when I first worked the little ball and circle.

They exploded to smithereens almost as soon as I put them in the coals.

Plan B

So, I pulled out the first test ball I’d made a while back. It was in storage in my studio/office and I KNEW it would be dry. I had already fired it for a short amount of time last winter. I hoped this would compare to a “bisque” firing, because what I planned to do with it would test the limits.

It wasn’t as smooth and I hadn’t burnished it, but it was made the same clay. This was just one of the small clean clay lumps in the chunk, so it hadn’t gone through the sieves and process the others had.

Test Firing and Pushing the Limits

I opened the wood stove, made a nice little bed of glowing embers, where the previous test pieces had been but now were nowhere to be found, put the test ball in the embers and covered it with more hot coals.

Test firing underway, and quiet so far. Unlike the previous episode that sounded like fireworks going off inside the wood stove. Whew.

When the little ball became red hot I pulled it out with the tongs and dropped it into cold water as if I were making a Raku pot and ducked for cover.

It survived!

This was once the same color as the test pieces I just blew to smithereens in the test firing.
This was once the same color as the test pieces I just blew to smithereens in the test firing. It was not as smooth or “finished” as the original test piece.

Now it has some blackened areas and some rust colored area and I like it. More tests to come once the new pieces dry much longer. Very encouraged in spite of this little setback. I learned some things!

More Stress Testing

Next I wanted to know if I could drill into it with my Dremel tool. Sometimes I just need to put a hole into pieces I’m working with. If I’d think of it before firing, I could just put the hole in before the clay hardens.

Anyway, it did take the drilling okay. I lost my grip on it for a second and it twisted, resulting in a flake chipping off of it, but not too bad.

After the test-firing, I wanted to put a hole in the top of this so I could insert the stem and glue it. Now, this little "Folk" will have an interesting hair piece made from the clematis seedpod.
After the test-firing, I wanted to put a hole in the top of this so I could insert the stem and glue it. Now, this little “Folk” will have an interesting hair piece made from the clematis seed pod.

So that’s it for the reporting on my experiments for now. Tomorrow we’ll be at AFIC cooking more of our Burnt Kettle Shagbark Hickory Syrup. Then I’ll be getting ready for the market.

Market Plans

I’m not planning to bring my Forest Folk out again because they’re too fragile to keep boxing them up and setting them out, then reboxing and bringing them home over and over. If you want one and want me to bring it to market for you, just email me. Most of the market-goers are there for vegetables and bread, and crafts just aren’t doing very well, anyway.

If you’d like some hands-on fun at a Forest Folk Workshop, plan to attend in Winslow on December 16.

Next round of tests

Here’s the two I fired yesterday on 11/3/17. The one in the back hasn’t been fired yet. The one on the left was burnished before firing and the black one on the right was not. Both were dropped into water as soon as I pulled them from the fire. Both performed exceptionally! I can’t wait to make more things.

The second set of test pieces - they survived!
The second set of test pieces – they survived!

First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming


Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


One thought on “Test Firing the Native Clay – Failure and Success

  1. I’m glad you learned something from the failed attempts. To take it to a different level, we all need to try to learn from our failures, because we will fail. Edison had a famous quote about that: “‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 🙂

    Our farmer’s market is officially over for the year, but a few vendors will come the next two Saturdays. I miss it when it’s over and I miss the one we had in Cleveland that was open all but a couple Saturdays a year and went inside during the winter.

    Happy Tuesday, Madison!!

    janet

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