We use a clay body which we make up ourselves, blending very plastic clays from Dorset, china clay from Cornwall & potash feldspar. Other materials may be added to change texture, colour or working properties. We also make our own glazes & to achieve our range we use materials from all over the world. Clays from England, Feldspar from Finland, Talc from China, Alumina from France, Cobalt from Zaire, Copper from Chile etc.
Most of the work is ‘thrown’, i.e. made on the potter’s wheel, & often textured to complement the decoration. As pieces dry, they are coated with different coloured slips (coloured clays) and glazes, which when fired give rich and variegated surface & colouring. The pieces are usually only fired once in either the 60 cubic foot wood-fired kiln, the 30 cubic foot salt-glaze kiln or a small gas kiln. The firing temperature reaches about 1300°C.
Wood Firing – A demanding but rewarding process. We warm up with gas overnight & then for some 15 hours, thin slabs of wood are thrown into the kiln’s two fire boxes, slowly at first, and then faster as the heat builds up. The ash and flames are drawn through the pots, and as the firing progresses there is a build up of fine ash dust on the pots which melts with the clay to give a warm, toasty colour. This varies greatly with the vagaries of the currents of flame within the kiln from a gentle blush to a rich glaze coating.
Salt Glazing – By using common salt in the kiln at high temperature, it vaporises and fuses with the surface of the clay to form a glaze. Depending on the type of clay, or surface decoration, the salt glaze will vary in colour and texture from glassy to quite matt. At Edinbane, we put the salt into the kiln using small shovels from about 1240°C. The salt boils furiously and the vapour is drawn through the pots stacked in the kiln, allowing the sodium to get to the clay surface. After a couple of hours, and about 10 kilos of salt, the kiln is fired up to 1300°C to ‘mature’ the effects, and fingers crossed for a couple of days until the kiln is cool enough to have a look!
The process never fails to be exciting…