Fisker’s West Palm Ash

Here’s an interesting glaze inspired by a locally abundant material – dead palm fronds. Every week  throughout South Florida the streets fill up with piles of dead vegetation from people pruning their trees and plants.  With a 12 month growing cycle, they’re EVERYWHERE.


To utilize this stuff, I started by collecting about a half of a pickup truck’s worth of dead palm fronds. Collecting all of this stuff took about 10 minutes, and I didn’t have to go very far. I then setup a perforated burn barrel with a grated floor. I burned down everything, and collected the ash in a tray under the barrel.  Once I collected the ash, I added it all to a 5 gallon bucket and ‘washed’ it, by dumping out the top layer of chunks and oily looking stuff. I  gave it 24 hours, and came back out and stirred it, and repeated for the next few days. Fin ally, I poured the mix through a 40 mesh sieve into a bisque drying platter and let the stuff dry out. After that I crushed it into a powder and pushed it through an 80m sieve. Quite a bit of work, but a truly unique material.

Matt's West Palm Ash Glaze
Fisker’s West Palm Ash Glaze

Given that the soil here in Florida has so much Silica by virtue of all the sand it contains, I had the thought that its be likely that palm tree ash would have a much higher % of silica than say, hardwood ash.  I haven’t had it tested for the side-by-side chemical composition, but my initial tests seem very promising. My next step is to dredge up some clay-like muck from the canal across the street, and mix in calcined seashells for good measure. If the canal silt doesn’t do the trick, I’ll try some clay/silt from the Intracoastal waterway (A brackish salt/freshwater channel that runs parallel to the ocean, inter-connected by inlets and canals – which ultimately  keeps South Florida from turning back into a swamp!)

Nontheless, the 3 tiles on the left were soda fired. The 2 on the right were Reduction fired to cone 10/11.  The clays from left to right are; Studio Reclaim (A bastard mix of everything), B-Mix, 550 Porcelain, Studio Mix, Porcelain. The recipe is as follows:

Fisker’s West Palm Ash

Unwashed, 80m Palm Ash 45

Nepheline Syenite 45

Redart Earthenware 10