Within the industry, ceramic artists often find that they do the exact same thing to make the exact same thing over, and over, and over again. Consider the job of the production potter, for example. Perhaps the individuals in his or her market are particularly fond of berry colanders, the sale of which brings in a substantial amount of revenue for the potter. What does he or she do—sit down, throw a bowl, trim it up, pierce some holes in it, add some handles and repeat say… 99 more times. That’s a lot of monotony.
But as artisans, we know no two pieces are exactly alike; each retains its own special character in one way or other. A dimple here, some stray marks there—that is what makes the craft human, and the basis for our ability to relate to it on a personal level.
Similarly, no two kiln firings are exactly the same, be it gas, electric, or (surprise, surprise) wood. One may try his or her hardest to keep all things equal, but the imperfect, ever-changing world around us always puts its fingerprint on a firing. It just so happened, this time, that that fingerprint was from the hand of a generous kiln god.
As you may have read last week, we had an awfully good firing. The temperature rise was steady overall, facilitating great opportunities for reduction, and enabled us to reach our peak temperature approximately two hours ahead of schedule, a testament to our spectacular team. The success, however, made it that much more difficult to wait patiently until the following weekend to reveal its contents.
Now, the suspicions have been confirmed – plenty of great reduction, red flashes, and even a bonus shine.
That’s one more thing that never gets old—opening that kiln door. Each time we create work, we load the kiln, board it up, crank up the heat, and only when its time do we peel back that door, ready to experience the pride, excitement, and new understandings the work within affords us. So sure, some of the time it’s monotonous, but there’s a little variety (if not profundity) in and throughout that monotony; you just have to look a little.