Ceramics for transition tech?

When I was pondering the possibility of making fired ceramic arrowheads the other day, the thought occurred to me that natural ceramics might be able to be used to create tools and technologies not generally considered to be “Stone Age”. Intricate parts might be able to be made from clay by skilled craftspeople, and clay would probably be usable as a material for making pipes for some plumbing and stuff. I know some water filters are now being made with ceramic filtration elements, a process that sounds easy enough. Obviously it has its limitations like any material, and different types of clay have different properties.

I’m mostly excited about the prospect of using fired (and maybe glazed) ceramic pipes for plumbing, and perhaps being able to make some parts of an air-powered hunting rifle out of particularly tough ceramics. I bet we can come up with some great and inventive ways to use clay.

there’s a good chapter on preparing clay and firing it in a fire in Tom Brown’s book Living with the Earth, which is a good rewilding book. Have you tried making ceramics in a fire?

I’ve been occasionally making clay pieces to fire, and saving them up to fire when there are enough. A few bowls, a cup, stuff like that. I think I might try to get together a clay crafting day with Rewild New England, and then a day for firing all of our works. My fire pit is particularly well-suited for it, as it’s lined with both stones and metal.

I think I might get a bag of wood pellets for it.

I have a booklet that is dedicated specifically to methods of primitively making and firing clay crafts. I believe the title is something very obvious, like “Making Primitive Pottery”.

I’ve heard you can make a ceramic water filter by mixing clay, sand, and lots of sawdust. When you fire it, the sawdust burns away and gives the clay enough porosity to filter bacteria out of water.

Here’s the article, I’m sure there is a recipe in it somewhere