The Campfire Collection
Few things soothe the soul like poking a stick at a campfire.
As our kindling shyly sparks into a slightly larger glow we gently coax it into a welcoming flame. Like moths we cling to its warmth, and with our poking sticks in hand we stoke our campfire. Losing ourselves momentarily to the hypnotic blinking embers, the solace we sought now slowly floats around us. The fire's spent embers gently smoke while we drift off to sleep as the nocturnal animals stir around us. We rise as the day birds awaken and with the fire long cooled, we are left with only an ashy momento of the night before. Each campfire's timber will burn unique and different - for this reason we treasure its ash and collect what we can to use in our ceramic glazes. We keep each campfire glaze site specific, including only one camp's ash in each iteration - never washing away any of the solubles so the timber we've burnt can continue its story. It is one of our ways to preserve such moments in a casual continuum of adventuring and creating.
A few weeks ago we took a much needed road trip away from the studio and found ourselves camping beneath the shade cast by the tall forests of Blue Gums in a small clearing in Barrington Tops. Before departing we collected the remains from our campfire to create an ash glaze for a small assemblage of tumblers to add to this collection - a glassy distillation of time spent among the Gloucester River surrounds and the wildlife that inhabit it.
Gloucester River, Barrington Tops, Australia
Along the gravel road that winds through the lower east side of Barrington Tops lies a shady glade where the sunlight shyly flitters through the gum leaves. Perched atop their favourite stoops the guardians of this campsite are of the feathered kind, their bellies kept round by their worm rich hunting grounds. As dusk fades soft thump thumps announce the arrival of the wardens of the night, a brigade of Red-necked Pademelons, ever watchful over us; a pair of lone campers keeping warm by their campfire. The Kookaburras, relieved of their duties call the day to the end, their rolling cackles echoing across the treetops. All the while the Gloucester River calmly flows nearby, its bubbling acoustics floating across the clearing.
The next morning we collected the ash from the dewy remains of our campfire, which was fuelled mostly by the windfall of the Paperbark and Blue Gum trees that kept our camp in a deep shade. This ash was kept unwashed and was only dry sieved before it was added to our Shinnuka glaze recipe. The glaze was then applied to our tumblers which are hand thrown from an iron rich clay. Once fired in a reduction atmosphere to stoneware temperatures, a smokey blue glass forms over the dark chocolate clay body with small freckles of iron which burst through the soft blue surface.
To Capture Smoke
A stitched reflection on the charcoaled ambience and smouldering aroma left by the smoke of a campfire. Impossible to hold, this is our crystalline capture of a whisp of smoke before it dissipates into nothingness.
( 18cm diameter, Giclee prints on ricepaper, sewn together using 100% cotton thread )
Lake Mournpall, Mallee Country, Australia
During our trip to the outback we spent a night camping deep in the Mallee on the shore of Lake Mournpall. After a few defeating days on the road, where flooding had delayed our journey and re-routed us through odd country towns and regional cities, we welcomed the atmospheric silence broken by the warbles of the butcherbirds nested in the trees above us. As our campfire crackled and the resident frog life started their twilight symphony, we watched the stars appear and felt our road trip frustrations fall away into the darkness.
Our Mallee campfire was fuelled using windfall from the surrounding Red River Gum and Black Box trees. Due to our short stay, we were only able to collect 200 grams of useable ash, this remained unwashed and dry sieved before being added to our Shinnuka glaze recipe. With only a small supply of this raw ingredient we applied this ash glaze to our bisque fired tumblers over the top of an iron saturated Tenmoku glaze. When reduction fired to over 1300°C, the glaze's iron changes it's molecular structure within the kiln’s oxygen reduced atmosphere and small amounts of gas are released through the surface of the glaze, variegating the Shinnuka and leaving a beautiful blue hares fur upon the glossy black surface. Iron flecks blossom through the glaze on the inside, reflecting any passing light and reveal a depth of metallic reds.