Not all sawdust is equal..
I have a sawdust shortage.... for a pit fiting potter, this is a bit of an issue. To be strictly correct, I can buy lots of pet bedding sawdust, which is luxurious stuff if you are a guinea pig - but not so good for me. Aside from the fact I have to buy it, its too "springy" which traps lots of air and makes the fire burn like a ravenous monster - even if I pack it down. For the time being, I am desperately trying to slow down the fires by restricting oxygen as much as possible. Still too fast though....
You would think finding copious supplies of a waste product would be straightforward, but apparently not. After my phone around last week I learned that modern saw mills have extractor systems which duct the sawdust into sealed containers. The best offer I got was when one of them said I could go and sweep the bits they miss off the floor! I guess I need to find some time this week to go through the A-Z looking for local wood turners with no fancy ducting.
Anyway, all this got me thinking about alternatives. Could I replicate the effects in the kiln? Could I use another fuel source? A qualified 'yes' to both of those, but nothing I have found yet beats a slow old sawdust fire. There is also something right about using a waste product and keeping the whole process as natural as possible. I would be the first to admit the pots are quiet - they don't have bright colours or hard and shiny surfaces. These sawdust fired pots evoke sky and clouds and plants and earth and water. I love them for this, and so the sawdust hunt continues.