On a beautiful Wednesday in October Rob and I drove to Clevedon to explore and look for useful stuff to experiment with. The pier is beautiful but at £3 a visit makes for a rather expensive short walk, so as the tide was going out we went onto the beach and found some sticky silt/clay which I bagged up to test back at uni. I also collected three types of seaweed, a feather, limpet shells, a crab shell, rusty aluminium can, pinecone, seaglass and driftwood. These all record an afternoon at the seaside.
These were the seaweed tests – impressed raw seaweed which was effective. Top right – raw seaweed, Bottom right – seaweed ashes. Proving a useful neutral glaze sheen with some beige/tan colour.
Limpet shells became a bit crumbly but kept their shape, a reminder that shells are useful when firing glazed pieces as they leave a decorative chalk shell deposit in the glaze. The crab was a complete surprise as it fired a bright turquoise, part of which is embedded in the test bowl.
The pine cone and driftwood results were not unexpected. The pine cone gave a lovely widespread sheen and some colour, the driftwood stick was a lot smaller so gave considerably less spectacular results. The rusty can stayed intact but is fragile and didn’t give any colour to the test bowl holding it.
Finally, a use for all the sea glass I find on beaches – eight different coloured pieces gave a lovely crackled display of melted glass at 1140º (I’ve only just discovered that Bath Spa bisque to 1140º not 1000º as I’ve previously been used to, so this makes a massive difference to my test results).
The feather left a beautiful impression in the white stoneware and some frothy beige ash but no colour in the clay.
The mud that I collected was fantastic. It needed little sieving or cleaning and rolled out beautifully for test tiles. Fired to 1140º it turned a lovely red/mauve colour with no warping or cracking. 10cm shrank to 8.5cm. I’m now trying to think how I can get more of this silt without upsetting the locals!
PS. A silt clay test tile was fired to 1260º, unfortunately it was not put on a saggar! and became a lovely brown shiny glass … on the kiln shelf. I was introduced to the goggles, hammer and chisel, and made good the shelf again … lesson learned.
Photos: Brown, A. (2016).