School holiday week, so unable to get to the studio but took a sketch book away to note down thoughts. I’ve went back through these tonight, which I may scan and add in but I’ll summarise below first. I’m also planning a book.

The main thoughts were about Peat and Clay, as discussed with Conor, the parallels and tools used to cut and shape the peat/turf. I will start working again, slicing, and then reflect before I move on. I will research and organise how to fire using peat and make glaze from the peat ash.

Peat and Clay

  • the peat bog encapsulating and preserving things in water
  • the digging out with the tairsgeir
  • turning out and laying on the bank to dry
  • the stacking and drying
  • the burning/firing


I keep imagining encapsulating clay slices in glass, symbolising the nature of the peat bog, now it preserves objects and how everything is suspended in water. I will return to this.

Digging out with the tairsgeir

As discussed previously October 11th (

I need to rethink how I am cutting the clay, using much larger pieces of clay, and using a similar tool to the tairsgeir. Since peat cutting here is illegal unless you have your own ‘fad’ (there’s been a resurgence in the western isles but nowhere in the central belt) there’s no tairsgeirs for sale online or locally, I will phone a local blacksmith in the morning to see if they could make the head of a tairsgeir for me.  Otherwise, I think a normal spade rather than a peat spade will do the same job as the only difference is there’s no right angle to the cutting edge, which helps cut each turf the same size.  20″ is 50cm long, weighing 6kg each.

I’m going to combine 2 or 3 bags and cut long, square slices, as similar as I can to how peat is cut out of the ground. The dried peat I talk about has a layered, faceted, elemental character that my thin slices don’t communicate.

dartmore measurements

The photos show the texture of a peat bank

peat-bank-islay-whisky this entry shows peat being cut in a video.

Turning out and laying on the bank to dry

I may dry the clay slices outdoors which I already experimented with and adds an elemental weathered textured appearance.

Stacking and drying

I will come back to the stacking after I see how the slicing goes.


Now I have the peat I can:-

  • collect the ashes from burning the peat in a fire, they may work in a similar way to wood ash glazes. Fire in an electric kiln as normal and/or in a saggar.
  • plan how to saggar fire bisque with transparent glaze using heavy foil packed with peat (already half organised)
  • plan a raku fire naked bisque using peat to as the combustable in the reduction container (already half organised)

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