So, I fired my glaze kiln last night. The hardest part of this process is waiting for it to cool down, so I can open it up and see how everything turned out! Normally, I know how things will look, but this time I put in some new glaze ideas, so I'm excited to see them. I have to keep myself busy the day after I fire, and not go into the studio. I'm always tempted to crack open the lid and peek. I usually wait until the temperature is around 200 degrees F.
If you open a kiln too early, many bad things can happen. The most common would be cracking or breakage from thermal shock. Colors often finish developing during the cool down too, so if you control or ramp down your kiln, it will give you different glaze effects than just allowing the kiln to switch off and cool down. One thing I do is hold the kiln temperature for 20 minutes. This allows the heat to work on my glazes better, and gives some of my more reactive glazes a chance to move a little bit on the surface of the clay.
So today, I'm at my computer, updating websites, filling out applications for shows and booking myself into farmers' markets. All to keep myself from peeking into the kiln!
Chris has been home for two weeks, and since we can't go anywhere...he has been keeping himself busy. In between wrapping my ankle and helping me get my air cast on and off, he has built me an outdoor shelf for drying pots, fixed a lot of things that needed fixing and cleaned my studio!
Oh the joys of a cleaned up studio! It's like a fresh canvas, a new start, and it clears my mind. The thing about walking into a clean work area is that it is full of possibilities instead of hindrances. All your tools are clean and accounted for. Everything is in it's right place. When I walk in, I can get started on my daily work.
I'm the kind of person who has to clean the kitchen before I make a mess. If there are pots and pans and dirty dishes cluttering up the counters, I can't cook. It's the same in my studio. I love neatly lined up jars, tools sitting in bins, clean work tables. Order.
God is orderly. He is not a God of chaos. He tells us that all things should be done decently and in good order. Order brings a sense of calm. I need to do this to my house too.
Not even gonna lie. I don't have much of my own pottery. I have a lot of seconds, chipped mugs, stuff that was experimental etc. But I sell the best stuff! That's gonna change this year. I'm going to make myself a set of dishes. I'm still working out what clay I want to use and what glazes, but I'm getting closer. I can't wait to set the table with all my hand-made plates, bowls, cups and serving dishes.
I used to think I was a very practical person, and that I should just make pots. But the more I discover of pottery, the more pots there are to like. So many styles, so many choices of finish, and too many techniques to count! I like to throw on the wheel and I like to hand-build, and sculpt, and glaze and....everything. I like everything, and that's the problem.
I can't seem to settle into any one style or genre. Everyone else seems to effortlessly float into their niche, and here I am, 8 years in (or is it 9?) and I am niche-less. I'm all over the map, sculpting stuff, making bowls and mugs, making boxes and chickens, with no theme or consistency in sight.
My pottery displays look like a a flea market. Even the colors don't match, because I can't settle on a glaze that I want to stick with. I am, however, beginning to see some patterns emerging, just a hint, that I might have a category some day--animals. I love putting birds, dogs, cats, bears, on my pottery. I can stamp them, paint them, draw them or carve them. They don't look finished until they have some living thing on them.
I like making my chicken planters, and dog dishes too. Another thing I like is to make things that are functional. I like the idea of my creations being used in every day life, and making every day life a little more special because my creation is in it.
Pottery is as much science as it is art. I think, when I got started, I knew this on some level, but tried to avoid getting in too deep. Now it's too late. I'm reading about the various stages the clay goes through on its way to vitrification, and half my studio is dedicated to space for silica, wolastonite, frits and oxides. I have books on how to mix my own glazes and I'm searching for a digital scale that can measure minute amounts of ingredients while doubling as a postage scale so I can ship pottery. All this is to say that you can choose to go as deep into something as you like. But the deeper you go, the more satisfying it is. After you make the pot, and mix your own glaze and fire it yourself, the sense of satisfaction is all yours.