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Art Is…

  The following essay is from the Introduction to Dig Your Hands in the Dirt: “Art is…” Art is many things, but here what I mean by “art” is that kind of experience by which humans learn. Working with mud, sand, and straw is a way to teach geology, engineering, …

the upside down fire

how to build an upsidedown fire

You can greatly improve how your oven performs by how you lay and manage the fire. Here’s how and why I build what Pat Manley calls “an upside down fire.” The first principle of fire requires applying to heat to fuel. When the fuel gets hot enough, it bursts into flame. But if you pile many pounds of wood on top of your kindling, it will take a long time before all your fuel can really start burning. Meanwhile, you’ll get a lot of smoke in your (and possibly your neighbors’) eyes, and you’ll lose a lot of fuel (all that smoke counts as unburnt fuel). So turn your fire upside down! It will start small, but a small fire can heat up quickly. As it does, it will drop down deeper to ignite more fuel in your stack. The stack itself should be

Dig Your Hands in the Dirt: A Manual for Making Art out of Earth

purchase As you might suspect, a book with this title features many photos of barefoot kids happily stomping in the mud. Mud huts and mud pies conjure up pictures of primitive peoples and childish pleasures. But then you realize that the kids aren’t in Africa, but in Washington DC, Chicago, …

waterglass for binding earthen surfaces & pigment

“Waterglass” for protection & paint Waterglass has become my preferred binder in places where it’s needed. The chemical name is sodium or potassium silicate. It’s an inert mineral compound similar to window glass, but under heat and pressure, it’s soluble in water. I beauty get it from a ceramic supplier …