I really do think that ceramics is like golf. That one great shot, or one great pot, keeps you coming back for more, even in the face of bogies and cracked pots.
This last weekend’s gas firing went spectacular. The colors were great. The cooper really worked its magic and we got some great reds. I had not planned on doing much gas reduction firing once becoming an associate but was intending to focus on electric and salt/soda/wood. But this firing might have hooked me. Never before had I seen such great flame action out of a gas kiln. And the bit of oxygen that we introduced at the end seems to have brighten some colors and pulled some really interesting pinks out of the blues. And the salt yellow came out beautiful as well. All in all I am ecstatic over the result.
But then there are the boogies. I had made a series of pouring vessels, mostly pitchers and gravy boats. Most of them developed cracks in the bottom and leak. This is not a compression problem, but a result of the amount of manipulation I exert on the clay when I am forming the bottom of my pot at suede-hard. This never happens on stoneware – only porcelain. When I tested the pieces by filling them with water, the joy of the night was tainted as water slowly dripped out of each pot. Curses followed as well as proclamations to never use porcelain for these vessels again. All this was succeeded by an acceptance that I won’t be selling pitchers this holiday season. I’ll have to find some other use for these flawed lovelies.
Once the sales season is over, I will likely experiment with paper clay and refiring. This is something I scoffed at before, but these pieces are too nice to let slip away easily. Luckily, we have a resident paper clay expert.
Of course there is no time to fret over the sorrows of this firing. In just a few days I will be firing another kiln and then unloading next week. I am sure there will be great gems that come from the kiln and a few mulligans to do over. This is the joy and sorrow of a potter.