Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When Kilns Go Bad

Salt firing at EKU; 9/10/11. Oh, dear.
You win some, you lose some and we lost a few pots in this firing. One mistaken assumption when firing pots is that they are inanimate objects and therefore, how can this have happened?? It happened because fire moves the air and heat creates expansion. Balance a shelf on a post that isn't steady and as the temperature climbs, the center of gravity shifts and that's all it takes. Or it could have been a nick of the angle iron during the salting. Whatever the reason, one post moved and the whole right side came down. Well, it came down until the top group of shelves rested on the top of my tall pot.
Vase holding shelf up. Look at the salt sheen!
     It certainly seems like a disaster and in terms of the number of good pots vs. damaged pots, I had more damaged pots that good pots, unfortunately, but that's the nature of the beast. Tragedies like this happens in ceramics and there is no getting around it. I remember in my first ceramics class, my professor demonstrated the pluses and minuses of a pinch pot by cutting one in half. However, he didn't use a pinch pot that he had made. Instead, it was a student's pot that they probably diligently worked on for hours and in an instant, he had sliced it open, much to the shock of all of us. When he was finished pointing out the good and bad points, he tossed the whole thing in to the reclaim bucket. Part of the lesson that day went beyond the pinch pot. It went to the nature of making pottery and ceramic work. Don't invest emotional energy into any one pot on its way to becoming a finished piece because all sorts of disasters can happen on the way. And they don't just happen once. They happen repeatedly, to experienced and inexperienced potters and ceramic artists alike. Invest emotionally in your skills, your artistic vision, your craftsmanship, but the pots themselves? Be grateful when they come out of the kiln and not before then.
Hanging teapot.
We all sighed then took lots of pictures. Even with all the disappointment, the salting itself was fantastic. Look at the great warm toasty colors and orange peel textures! Needless to say I have kitchen shelves at home stocked with freshly ground mugs and cups and vases and water pitchers.
     What does this all mean for me? Remaking a whole bunch of things. Well, I will have a few new items listed on Etsy this week so some of the pieces from this firing will make it to the outside world. I did get to see that some of my new ideas are workable and now I have the opportunity to tweak them some more. I have a wood firing to participate in a few weeks from now plus an upcoming anagama firing so I will continue to be busy, busy, busy making, making, making pots, pots, pots. And sculpture. All is well.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I think I would have cried and then resigned myself to make more stuff! Thanks for sharing! :)