Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Big Kilns and Recent Travels

I delivered pots to Joseph Sand's last week and then zipped off to my other worlds outside of pottery.

After a weekend of dancing and a conference,
and communing with nature in the Valley of Virginia,
I helped with loading Joseph's kiln yesterday, which is always an experience and fascinating to watch the loading, particularly the "big pots."

The firing will be this weekend, and I'm looking toward another firing in my kiln next month. Picked up a load of wood yesterday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recent Kiln Firing

 When I built the kiln last year I said, "my goal is to not fire this thing in July or August." The first firing last year was in August and we just did a firing in July. So much for that hope!

I loaded the kiln a little differently this time, which ultimately bit me in the butt, however, it was worth a try I suppose.
Rather than putting the shorter shelf in the front of the kiln, parallel to the front firebox opening, I placed it there on the left, and then lined up the 12x24 shelf in front of it.
What I realize in hindsight is that this essentially created the same atmosphere I struggled with for the first several firings, having the large shelf up front, creating a cooler space in the front corner.
See how the pots in the front left are dry? That's the cool corner. We also struggled a lot with this firing. Up until this week we've had fairly constant rain for almost three months, which has brought us high humidity levels, given me damp bricks, damp shelves, and never drying pots. It didn't matter where I put them, or kept them out of the elements, everything got damp. Including some of the wood. We fought and fought with that kiln at the end and gave up (or gave out really) before I would have normally called it good.
I was pleasantly surprised by the results. For the most part, everything reached temperature, and I only had a few issues with dry ash or really dry pots.

Nose dive mug
Only one piece made a sacrificial nose dive during the firing. 

On to the next firing!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Stamp Confession

My 'usual' stamp

I have a confession. I forget things, lose things, and generally sometimes wonder where the hours go. A few weeks ago while getting back into the studio after "Dish Camp" I realized I left my "Liberty Stoneware" stamps (lower case) in New York. Bummer. This revelation made something dawn on me. As I turned to my drawer of stamps, and resorted to using the all caps "LIBERTY STONEWARE" stamps, I thought about what historical potters did in these instances. I'm positive they forgot things, broke things, lost things, and also likely generally wondered where their daylight hours wheedled away to.
The stamps I resorted to in my haste

Many people who write about historical pottery and potters often pinpoint certain stamps, decorations, designs, etc. to "transitional" points in a potter's career, to an "early career" or some other term designating roughly when they think those designs or stamps were being used. I try to stray from using the term "transitional" for many reasons, but when I had to get out my other set of stamps out, I thought, "why wouldn't other potters have done the same thing?"
Another time when I tried something a little different with the numbers
Why wouldn't a potter perhaps have a whim to revisit an old design, use a different stamp, or perhaps use an old stamp if the other broke or was misplaced for the moment? Why do we have to make their careers so black and white through the motifs, stamps, decorations, etc.? Categorizing a potter's work may be helpful in some respects, but I have to think that they would chuckle a little to watch us so diligently try to categorize their lives. Forms change, I understand that, but the criticism of the stamps and the decorations drives me batty sometimes. Fifty years from now (with the hopes I'll still be making pots in fifty years) I will likely not remember when I did or didn't use one stamp or another, when I tried something new, or put a little different twist on a design, and now with my own kiln and my pots looking more coherent and similar to one another, how will anyone else know when I did one thing or another?
Prepping new kiln posts for the firing
In other news-- it's kiln firing time again! Loading it up and firing this weekend!