Chimney and pots.

I built a fireplace and chimney onto the tiled roof hut for light and cooking purposes. An external fireplace was built in the back wall of the hut. This fireplace was not for heating. That was taken care of by the pre-existing underfloor heating system. I camped in the hut one night and the fireplace gave good light to see by while the underfloor heating made it comfortably warm to sleep in.

I also needed more and larger pots for carrying water and boiling it. Clay from the creek bank was dug and used to make the pots. Stones were removed from the clay and broken tiles left over from the construction of the hut were crushed and added as grog. This prevents pots from cracking during drying and firing. The clay was then mixed by hand to form a homogenous mixture.

A cooking pot and 4 large pots (just under 25cm tall and 25cm wide) were made using the coiling method. Some layers of the pot had lines scraped on top of them to help the next layers stick to them better, but this was probably unnecessary. The pots were rubbed with a snail shell and a smooth seed pod in a process called burnishing. This adds strength to the pots and makes them more waterproof. I only burnished them lightly. If done well they can get a very shiny finish.

The kiln, originally used for firing roof tiles for the hut, was used to fire the larger pottery. Originally I fired previous pots in small pit fires. But the kiln allowed me to fire larger pots with a lower breakage rate than pit fire. The quality of kiln fired pots is also higher than pit fired pots as the kiln reaches a higher and less variable temperature. One of the four large pots cracked during firing. In total the project yielded 3 large water pots and one small cooking pot.

I used the large pots to carry water from the creek to irrigate a sweet potato patch behind the wattle and daub hut (across the creek from the tile hut).  The smaller pot was used to boil the creek water. First I put the pot full of water back in the kiln and fired it which brought the water to a simmering boil. Another day I decided to try boiling the water with rocks. Wooden tongs were made using a split sapling and the fireplace was lit. Quartz stones were placed in the fireplace and more wood piled on top. The stones took about 15 or 20 minutes till they glowed red hot. They were then taken from the fire using the tongs and placed in the pot of water. The small pot only took about 4 rocks to boil violently. Any pathogens that were in the water would have surely died from the 20 minutes or so of rolling boil (although I’ve never become sick drinking this water straight anyway). I drank the water and it was like warm tea.

117 thoughts on “

  1. Hello
    Very interesting (and admirable). Where are you from? Would you be interested in managing-teaching a team composed of persons interested in acquiring your technique. We have a 100acres forest in our property (100 k m south from Paris, France) where we could have this project done. I’m very much looking forward to having such a project realized. Of course, you would have no cost at all. Tell me if this is possible and on what conditions (financial etc…).
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
    Christian

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    • Thanks for the offer but I’m busy with projects here. But your project sounds full of potential. Guedelon castle is being built in France- this half inspired me to build the tiled roof hut (I watched the documentary). If you get a chance you should visit it because if I can build a tiled hut here in Australia you could certainly do it there too. Also get some knowledge of metallurgy from them too. Let me know how it goes and good luck.

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  2. Hi, I keep thinking about your ceramics, been doing a lot of my own homesourced ceramic stuff lately and you are in such a completely different climate that the differences/similarities keep firing up my imagination. Have you looked at http://www.sidestoke.com ? A whole bunch of Australian woodfired potters, lots of (very modern style) anagamas and other woodfired kiln designs. They are artisan potters but it seems like an awesome resource. I was also wondering about the clay you use. It looks like a red earthenware, but you might look around for a higher firing clay body. Again, I don’t really know how much land you have access too or the restrictions, but there is supposedly a lot of kaolin deposits in northern Australia as far as I understand. Way different from here where the closest kaolin deposits I’m aware of are thousands of miles away.

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  3. I’m having a hard time keeping the clay I’ve collected from becoming brittle, and I’m wondering if you might have a suggestion to prevent that. The clay I have in my area of South Georgia is white clay (kaolin), and it’s partially underwater maybe the water content is too high or possibly too much debris?

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    • Kaolin tends to be crumbly but is some of the best for high temperature crucibles. I’d look for other clay in the area to make pots. Red, grey, yellow or brown clay. If you can’t then mix in fiber and see if it’s still brittle. If there is debris in it try removing it somehow. Thanks.

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  4. You may already be aware of this. Quarts and other stones with a glassy or crystal nature will sometimes explode (violently burst is probably a better way to put it) when heated in a fire. Basalt is the most durable to heat though other types of stone will due.

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  5. Please be this site: http://www.thijsvandemanakker.com/index.php/videos which describes the metal forging process. But … is used other iron Company Instrument to make more iron! But his project tries to do things using what you have in nature. So how was the first metal forging? If there was no brass instruments to assist in the process, as was the forging of metals? We know that the first metal used was copper with lower melting point than iron. I would love to see on site a copper forge, starting from scratch, making for example one faction. After an iron. His work in these videos is inspiring !!! I wait for more videos !!! Good luck!

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    • I’ve seen his videos and he deserves more views. It’s not hard to imagine early smelters pulling a bloom from a furnace using green wooden tongs and then hammering it with large stone hammers. Iron was first smelted into it’s solid state at temperatures of 1200 c (not that much higher than copper and well below it’s 1500 c + melting point). The spongy mass of semi liquid slag and solid iron were then hammered flat to weld the iron together and drive out the slag. It’ll be a while till I smelt iron but it is a goal. Thanks.

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  6. Great videos!
    Just one thing, why did you build the fireplace outside your hut and not inside (if you know what I mean)? If you build it outside the heat can escape through the walls (of the fireplace) and you’ll lose a lot of energy (heat). I know that you only needed that for light, and you also have a lack of space and a lot of ‘real’ houses have that too but that just not using our resources wisely (is it?)

    Sorry if I said something wrong, I adore the stuff you do, but I’m just trying to help.

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    • That’s a good point but it’s in the tropics and here the Idea is to eject heat from a building. People kept pointing this out so I built underfloor heating in my other hut (tiled roof hut) to show how to heat a space well in cold weather. Thanks.

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  7. Hello, i am confused about your ceramic pots. the taller ones turned orange after the cooking but the smaller one you boiled water with turned black, why?

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