If you lived in Far North Queensland, Australia before modern technologies were invented, how might you make a clay kiln and pottery from a termite mound? Primitive Technology takes on the challenge in the video above.

Termite clay is good material for making furnaces and an OK substitute for good pottery clay should it be difficult to find a better source. The termites have already processed the clay by the fact that their mouths are too small to include sticks and pebbles into their structures. As a result, the clay is very smooth and plastic. Too smooth for my liking, in fact, I’m used to working with coarser clay that has silt mixed into it naturally. I find that termite clay is either too runny when wet or cracks too easily when drier. It was difficult to form into complex shapes and it took me 2 attempts to make the urn. But for forming objects like tiles it’s OK, it can be pressed into shape and it will hold without difficulty. In future, I’d be likely to use termite clay for mass producing formed objects such as bricks, tiles, simple pots (formed over a mould) and possibly pipes, thereby conserving the dwindling clay supply from the creek bank which I’ll save for more intricate pottery.

Read about how he built the kiln and worked with termite clay on his site, and watch more Primitive Technology videos on this site.

Related watching: Made by the Sea – Pottery from beach-harvested clay, From Clay to Mosaics – How zellige (الزليج) mosaics are made, and Kintsugi & kintsukuroi – The art of pottery mending with gold.

Plus, related termites: How do living things change their environments?

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