Thursday, September 6, 2012

New pots for Charlestown show Saturday

Every firing is an adventure. At least, every firing in MY kiln is an adventure. It's about the way I fire, the way I glaze pots, the glazes and glaze techniques I use, the kind of pots I sometimes make. I think, in fact, it's basically about my personality, which tends to plunge ahead with things on my own, whether I know exactly what's going to happen or not.
So there are mornings after a firing that feel wonderful, when the pots look more or less as I thought they would and sometimes even better. And there are mornings like today, when the first look inside is a disappointment, when it's clear a glaze combination hasn't worked, when one pot that felt good as it went in looks like a train wreck when it comes out. It's not until later, after ALL the pots are out of the kiln and inspected, that it becomes clear that it was not such a bad firing after all.
Yes, there's junk among the hundred or so pots, but it's a minority of junk. Most are just fine, even pretty good.
I think, and I'm not being falsely modest about this, that I just don't know enough about what I'm doing.
I am apparently still learning. And I'm one of those people who has a hard time asking people for advice; I'd rather stumble forward and hope that the path I'm on brings me to a good place.
Which it has with many of the pots in this firing. I wanted more teabowls for the Durango, Colo., show next month and there were several in this kiln. And several that could be part of the group I send next week. The teabowls I've been making and the way they've been glazed have resulted in some pots that look like they've been hammered carelessly from stone.
Jeff Adelberg and Tess Mattern, two young student potters from Boston, were here earlier in the week to look at pots and asked specifically about a patched and broken looking teabowl that was at the front of the bottom kiln shelf. These faceted teabowls are made in a hazardous manner, faceted and then expanded to within an inch of their lives, and sometimes beyond. One facet in that particular bowl gave way as I opened it and a flap of clay spread out from the side. Rather than cut it off the wheel and re-wedge it, I pushed the flap back onto the pot and patched it inside and out with a few of the flat pieces that came off as the bowl was faceted.
"I don't know," I told Jeff and Tess, speaking of that teabowl. "We'll see what happens in the firing."
Glazed in a couple of Shinos and an Oribe, the pot came out today. And I'm pretty happy with it.

I'll have many of these new pots with me at Art in the Park, in City Square Park in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, on Saturday. Come on by if you're in the area.
The photos: Top, Shino teabowl with Temmoku pour, and the aforementioned patched-together teabowl; second, a group of teabowls; ice cream bowls, with iron slip brushwork under McKenzie Shino.


Dennis Allen said...

Hollis, I think if I ever get to the point where there are no failures it will mean that I am not trying hard enough.

cookingwithgas said...

It is all about that and more.
I think the mind nevers let one rest in this clay stuff- whatif, whatif,whatif.....
Because of the business and where we live we have to pull our selves back most of the time while wondering- what if....
we did this....
I enjoy the results you get from your kiln and love that you jump out there and push.

Tracey Broome said...

I learn something and try something new almost every time I walk into my studio, isn't that what we are doing this for, haha! That's the most fun part. When I know all there is to know about clay I'll quit (which will actually be never, the knowing, I mean)

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, guys. I appreciate the things you say.