Fourteen Years

In 1983, a potter friend in the nearby community of Auroville came across an unusual manuscript. It was written in Farsi. His Iranian girl friend translated sections of the text revealing the improbable concept of fire-stabilizing a mud house. Later that year Racing Alone by the Iranian architect Nader Khalili was published in English. I was initially skeptical but when an article authored by Jim Danisch appeared in Ceramics Monthly further describing Khalili’s experiments, curiosity got the better of me and on a visit to the USA in 1984 I attended a three-day workshop with Nader. By the time I met Nader, in spite of serious doubts about the viability of the concept, I had already decided to give it a try.

Thus began a fourteen-year experiment, yielding very mixed results. In the end I came to the conclusion that though the thing can be done, the circumstances required to make it work viably are so limited that it became very difficult to justify propagation of the technique. Ironically, I as I came to this conclusion, it seems that I may have solved the most intractable of the problems—energy consumption.