Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
A while back we went to a nearby creek and collected clay to experiment with.
Unfortunately, I lost all the documentation of it, but here is the process in a nutshell:
1. Mix clay material in a bucket of water until the water is cloudy.
2. Pour the cloudy water into another bucket and let the clay settle at the bottom. Pour off excess water.
3. Repeat until you have the amount you want to work with.
4. Pour the clay water through a sheet and let it dry to a workable consistency.
After processing, we made almost 10 pounds of clay and tried our hand at making some small dishes. We also tried to make one of those faces you affix to a tree, but it cracked while drying.
I have been told that you need a kiln to fire pottery, so all of history is tough out of luck.
There are all sorts of things I have been told, and sometimes you just have to see for yourself. I started a fire.
Almost immediately, the cup I made broke into a lot of pieces. My Beloved’s did not. She has a few classes under her belt. I increased the temperature by adding more fuel.
After the fire died down, I fished out the pieces of clay that I hoped had fired.
Clay in it’s natural form contains silica and alumina and suspends easily in water due to the small particle size. When heated to the appropriate temperature, it is no will not break down as the form has changed.
We soaked a test piece in water for about 5 minutes and it did not fall apart!
So now came the fun part. We added water to the potentially functional cup and it had a slight leak. It is notable that it took about 11 minutes to seep through the vessel without any glaze.
Here at Willow Manor, coffee is a big hit so we gave it a try despite the minor leak. It worked!
This project gave me a new understanding of Jeremiah 18.
Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand,
When I was younger, I believed that after you failed a lot perhaps God would glue the broken pieces together or if you failed big, you might be cast aside with the other failed creations.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
Matthew 27:7 KJV
So, after doing a little research, a potters field is a place where poor people are buried and formerly a place where a potter found clay. There would have been a lot of pre dug holes, but little broken pottery.
After reaching out to a few potters, I found that the broken pottery isn’t a waste. Because it has already been fired, it doesn’t shrink when drying or when the heat comes. It can be ground up and put into new clay to strengthen it.
This was a neat discovery to me. God can rebuild from the ground up, many times if necessary, and the end result can improve with each refiring.