and Fire

 a demonstration by Ed Karch



All three can hurt you.


Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves, keep it off your skin and clothes. Read the label.


Clear the area of combustibles. Have an extinguisher handy. Watch your hands and loose clothes.


How can you hurt yourself with mud? Fired, spitting hot mud flying all over the place.

Face mask and long sleeves.

fire pot Earth

Bogolon uses mud as dye. We use mud as resist similar to wax in batik

The characteristics of the mud we need are: consistent size particles no big chunks, low sand and loam, and high clay content. I use potters clay.

Water added to the consistency between pancake and biscuit dough or thin drywall mud. 
I mix mine in an old blender. Check the yard sales.
Application of mud is done with pastry bag with appropriate nozzle or I use Plockmans mustard jar which has good nozzle size and a jar size that fits the hand. I tried ketchup bottles and several brands of mustard to find the right nozzle.
A sealer may be needed to keep mud from dying the wood, depending on the color of mud and porosity of the wood. Diffuse porous woods are best such as maples, fruit woods, holly, poplar. Porous woods work best where the objective is to show off the wood grain patterns.


Two part bleach lightens wood but when heated darkens sooner than the wood shows char.

On open grain bleach concentrates in the pores and when hit with fire darkens emphasizing the pores which is reverse the normal darkening of late wood over lighter early wood.

Other substances may also do the same.

gost lines


The torch can be butane, propane, or mapp gas. Mapp gas is the hottest followed by propane and butane.Use light passes to avoid heavy char unless you want to wire brush or sand blast. Light sanding after burning will smear the carbon and de-gloss giving a satin finish. Wipe off the piece before stabilizing the burn.

Fibonacii Grass


Bees wax rubbed in while the piece is still warm is nice. Avoid waxes that have solvents like floor wax as they may result in a whitish bloom. Tung oil finishes will harden the char and can be worked into a glossy finish if desired.

Bogolon bowl

  Additional Techniques

  A light char of carving high points to increase contrast on rustically carved pieces.
  Scgraffito, carving through the char similar to Al Stirt's technique of carving through black gesso also works well.
  Clay Foster's methods of gluing on egg shell or use of surface metals or staples of different metal will also add interest.

The form of a piece is foremost, after that have fun trying anything you want, to provide interesting patterns that please the eye.