Saturday, October 23, 2010

Visiting Old Friends

Lane Linnenkohl disking the field at Dry Branch Farm Photo by the author
Sorry I have been so delinquent. I presented at the Bethlehem Moravian History and Music Conference last weekend on my thesis topic of the Moravian potters in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was a good conference, and I enjoyed the exchange of discussion about objects, memory, and historical value. All excuses aside, a few weekends ago I was at Dry Branch Farm in Summer Shade, Kentucky. Lane Linnenkohl,farmer, and owner of Dry Branch Farm, is a dear friend. Now, the real reason for being at Dry Branch Farm was to enjoy the last farm party there in Kentucky. It was somewhat bittersweet, but an exciting event filled with lots of music, lots of food, and of course, a pig roast!

Lane operates the farm on horse power, which I think is beautiful and admirable Photos by the author
 While I was there I had the opportunity to see some of my old pieces of pottery. I had given these pieces to Ricki Linnenkohl, Lane's wife, because I knew she would use them rather than me keeping them boxed up. These pieces always remind me of things I was developing, and how I critique my own work. So I thought I would share my visit with these old friends. These were all made while in the Ceramics Apprenticeship Program at Berea College.
My pitchers have changed dramatically over the years, especially my handles. I found this pitcher in one of the cupboards at the farm. It is reduction-fired with a clear glaze and a painted decoration applied with the Tenmoku glaze which was also on the inside and on the rim. One thing I noticed the most about this pitcher is how thin the handle was, and how my handle terminal was not very strong.

This piece was a test piece for the salt kiln. I was working on textures and form, and while I enjoy what a thick slip of clay can do for the texture, I recall a comment about this piece being that the form needed work. I agree. It does make a nice utensil holder though!

This piece was hard to depart with. I was playing with testing various kinds of glass in the salt kiln, and the textures of handles. I thought the form was pretty nice, but the collar and neck needed some work. One of the critiques I remember receiving was that the piece looked incomplete, like it needed something. At the time, I didn't really see it, and now I do. It could use a lid, or the collar and neck could have been done in a different manner so as not to be so stark and straight-up.

Then there was the casserole. Anyone who was a part of the Ceramics Apprenticeship Program around 2007 remembers the bloating clay. It took a while to figure out what was going on, but in the end it was an impurity in one of our clays which we were mixing in the clay body we used for throwing. It didn't necessarily show up in the bisque firing, but definitely reared its ugly head during the glaze firing. This casserole had a few bloats on the outside, but I always enjoyed the glaze combination, and the knob on the top. It was my first run of making large casseroles, hollow knobs, and a ton of lidded objects! But it brings back the nightmares of losing entire kiln loads of pottery!

In closing, seeing these pieces again reminded me to always have a critical eye for my own work, and to step back and look at a piece in its entirety--- analyzing all of the components and how they work together.

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