Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Playing the shell game in the kiln

Tourists on a beach holiday might have wondered who that bearded guy was walking head-down across the seaweed-and-stone-covered strand near the Shining Sea Bike Path yesterday afternoon. Plastic bag in hand, bending down only occasionally and dropping something into the bag ... it was just a Falmouth potter collecting shells for propping a batch of side-fired teabowls in Friday's firing.
After dry-stacking most of the kiln, I gave myself a little beach time, wandering up the shore of Vineyard Sound, where I can usually find bay scallop shells washed up on the sand. I sometimes prop pots on their sides on the kiln shelf, supported by shells filled with refractory wadding. It's an old technique and if done properly leaves behind the nearly parallel lines of the scallop shell in the glaze. I'm going to shell a group of teabowls in the kiln I'm loading today. We'll see what happens.
And Paul Jessop reminds me that I haven't said anything about the demo I did this past Saturday at the Woods Hole Historical Museum. It was a lovely day, starting sunny, but with a bit of fog rising from Vineyard Sound toward the end of the hour of throwing. We had a small but interested group of people, with plenty of good questions and maybe 14 pots thrown. That's about five more pots than we had spectators. But they were pleasant and inquisitive and appreciative. And it wasn't a bad way to spend a couple of summer hours.
Coming up: Another kiln-opening this Saturday, at the height of day lily season here in Dee's gardens. Worth coming out to, even if you don't want to see pots. More on that tomorrow.

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