I think that every potter has a bit of architect in them…and I know a couple of architects that have pottery envy. Kurt Vonnegut’s father was an architect who struggled all his career, finding satisfaction in his retirement as a pot maker. Making pots…making buildings…they both share ideas about interior and exterior space..line and form. I often describe potmaking as architecture on a personal scale.
All this is a way to explain my lifelong interest in building things. The outhouse is shaping up. It was a tricky thing to get the arch forms up that high by myself…today if the rain isn’t too thick I’m hoping to put most of the siding up. I need to get back in the studio, but this sure is fun!
I have been curious about the SOFA shows for some time and a couple of weeks ago I made a Priceline deal and I’m getting on a plane tomorrow in DC and flying to the city of Chicago. Blues music and the Loop and The Art Institute and Edward Hopper and architectural ceramics and the Great Fire and “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair and two old friends to see. I’m looking forward to the break and I love to travel. I’ll bring a report back with me.
Everywhere you look these days the leaves are lovely.
I’ve spent most of this last week cleaning up after the firing and getting ready for winter, which seems to be coming sooner than later. I’m moving back to my cosy little insulated studio. Most people with winter and summer studios have one in Maine and one in New Mexico…mine are 60 feet apart.
I really need to get back on the wheel soon, but I’ve been planning the world’s coolest outhouse and for some reason, this has turned out to be the time for digging a big hole. I’ve been building a library for it for years. And I don’t mean the old Sears catalog!
I did have cold visit to Emmett Snead’s farm for some pumpkin pickin’ with Emily and Ellie Bird. He grows these lovely, warty old varieties.
Ellie hypnotized by chickens.
I haven’t posted much about my firing last week because I’ve been struggling with the results.
here’s my math…5 firings x 2 chambers = 10 chambers fired. I’d rate the salt chamber this time in the top two and the wood chamber in the bottom two. I missed reduction in the wood and I’m still troubled by that…I thought it looked right and without it a lot of the work in that chamber is pale and looks underfired. I don’t think that temperature is at fault here…cone 12 was down in most spots. I added bentonite to some of the glazes to make them stick on the raw pots but I don’t think that’s a factor. I feel a bit like I’ve fallen off a horse and I’m reluctant to climb back on. It is discouraging to produce so many mediocre pots. Hard to sell…hard to even look at.
I am excited by several slips in the salt; I’ve been searching for a surface that is more ‘satin’ than orange peel and glass and I think I’ve got a couple now. I’ve always known what I want from the salt…the wood is the challenge that I laid out for myself. I always knew that if wood alone didn’t seem interesting that I’d salt both chambers. I’m not sure if this is the moment to make that change. Rudi thinks I should switch, but he’s an engineer….and I’m an artist. Eventually he’s right, but I usually take a different route to that same conclusion. I’m not sure if that’s creativity or stubborness.
My pottery sits on the edge of Claremont farm in Caroline County, Virginia. This gazebo with it’s bamboo roof will whistle if the wind is right. The gourds add to the magic of this shelter in the middle of the garden.
16 pounds of salt.
20 hour firing.
12 hours of sleep.
I’m happy to report that ol’ #5 went very smoothly. Jay and Rabah took the nighttime shift and once again did an admiral job of coaxing the slow rise that is essential to the care and feeding of my raw fired pots. I had a few fitful hours of sleep and then was joined by Beth and Matt who soldiered on for the rest of the day. It continued to be perfect weather…warm in the sun and 60 in the shade.
The rhythms and pace of the kiln have remained pretty regular, which gives me confidence as I continue to fiddle and tweak it.
(sounds like an English pub: “lets have a pint at the Fiddle and Tweak”)
The bottom of the wood chamber seems much improved. I need to rebuild the collection box between the salt chamber and the chimney. I somehow blew up the big sculpture in the salt chamber!?! That’s been bugging me ever since. I’m staying away today. Feeling pretty brain dead so I’m looking after some household chores, drinking good tea and watching a little football.
I’ll bring you a sneak peek tomorrow. Unloading is Tuesday. Here’s hoping!
Log book: before.
Log book: after.
Miss Ellie Bird, presiding.
Beth and Matt stoking the 2nd chamber.
No time for photos. Ignition is at 9pm. I’ve got 20 – 24 hours of fire to look forward to. I’ll report in tomorrow night. Go Red Sox!
I got a late start today after 2 meetings in the morning at LibertyTown. Didn’t make it out to the studio until mid-afternoon, but I’ve been eager to get underway with loading the kiln and it felt good to make a dent. My title today refers to the weather…when I dreamed of building this kiln in the middle of the woods, this is exactly how I thought it should be. Perfect autumn weather that is supposed to last for days and days. This first photo is the view out of the kiln shed.
Here’s a layer by layer photo series of today’s progress in the wood chamber. I am meticulous and pokey about loading, and I still put too many pots in (I know that they need space, but it’s hard to overcome greed and the habits of packing a gas kiln for 25 years).
It’s really the beginning of the firing, since I start to imagine the flame as it passes over the pots, thinking about where I want that flame to come in closest contact.
The first layer is mostly planters with no glaze inside so I can fire another pot inside. I want to make lids one day and turn them into saggers.
Dr. Seuss’ bird baths – tallest is 4 1/2 “.