Saturday, February 22, 2014

                    New Wood Fired Pots from January's Firing


I've finally gotten around to photographing some of the pots from last month's woodfiring.  As always, some things go in the kiln good and come out horrible, while others go in " just ok" and come out magical.  This was a particularly good firing with a lot of natural ash build up.  It also gave me a chance to work with some new clay bodies, mostly stoneware and a Helmar- based porcelain that were both a refreshing alternative to the stark white Grolleg porcelain that I use in 95% of my reduction fired work.

I'm not really known for making wood fired pots, and I suspect no one would think of me a a wood kiln potter.  But for me, wood firing is like going on "ceramics vacation".  I get to get out of my studio and spend time with some good people, and I get to play with looser forms than usual.  Sometimes the wood fire aesthetic can be a bit overwhelming for my tighter, more controlled forms so I like to go into it knowing that I will allow myself to make looser, less refined pots that will (hopefully) benefit from effects of the kiln.'s that new Helmar porcelain body with a shino glaze.

And, sometimes they do.

I also get to use shino, which has always been a favorite glaze of mine that I seldom put on my work these days.  Really, the whole process reminds me of why I got into clay in the first place, and takes me back to the old Purchase Street campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where I took my first ceramics course almost 20 years ago...

...some beautiful ash build up on a fish scale glaze.   
Shino's poetic. It changes in almost every firing and captures the natural ash from the firing while recording the passage of the flame throughout the kiln.  As a glaze, it will even change over time in its bucket, as water evaporates and soluble soda ash crystallizes.  It's reliable, doesn't run, and welcomes "accidents" like finger marks or drips.  This particular recipe looks good on stoneware and certain porcelains containing  kaolin that is less "pure" than Grolleg and such.  On my Grolleg- based porcelain, it tends to look a bit bland.

And, here's  few shots of the crew, for good measure.  It's been a good 3 years of firing with my friend, Jeff Brown, who teaches ceramics down in Thibodeaux, LA, at Nichols State University.  This place has been, at one time or another, home to such ceramics legends as Joe Bova, Dennis Siporski, and Bill Krehmer.  And now, Jeff Brown.  I'm always thankful for the invite.

...Jeff Brown loading the kiln.

.....some hot stokin'!

....and me. My back is not as young as it used to be! 
This last piece is not from the wood firing, but I wanted to include it to show the marked contrast in feeling that one gets by comparing this to the warm browns and oranges of the wood fired pots.  This cool, meditative celadon glaze has not fared too well for me in the wood kiln, although I know some people's recipe's do.  I prefer to keep this for my gas fired work, as it really sings on a clean, brilliant white porcelain.   That reminds me, I have a kiln firing right now that I should go check on! Hopefully, it will yield a few beauties to send to the Santa Fe Clay La Mesa exhibit at this year's NCECA conference. 
I'd go, myself, but I'm scheduled for another wood firing that week!....this time, a big anagama kiln in southern Mississippi ;)

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