A New Art Hero

Finally, my last kiln load was a 100% success. That doesn't happen every fire. The majority of the work inside was a final fire before putting them in the sawdust fire finish barrel. There were a couple with regular glaze on them. Two fruit bowls that came out nice. I couldn't help thinking looking at the hand built one, "This glaze came out very nice, but I liked the texture and feel before the glaze better." I often feel that way.

Melissa Weiss, a potter in North Carolina, whose book I'm currently reading was able to articulate this feeling.

When I first started making pottery, I didn't think too much about glazing... I got to a point that it dawned on me that I loved making pots, but I didn't love pottery. The glazes finished the process but

left me with a shiny coated form that smothered the life out of it: a thick, opaque frosting that erased any voice in the clay. (page 29, HAND BUILT, A Potter's Guide)

Her book that I am only 1/2 way through has inspired me on so many levels. This summer I plan to start looking for "wild clay". I'll start at my friend's farm and take it from there. I also plan to start developing my own wood ash glazes. I am so excited. This book has been a real eyeopener and turning point in my studio.

The glazes I have been using look natural on the wheel thrown work, but always seem to take something away from the hand built. I think that is why I prefer the look and feel of sawdust firing. It's organic and natural. It compliments rather than overpowers the pot. Having said that, it is not food safe and let's face it, much of my work is intended to be functional, utilitarian. One of my most difficult and elusive endeavors in the studio is finding a cohesive voice, a solid body of work that resonates the hand and style of one artist. Can I be a sculptural and functional potter simultaneously like Melissa Weiss? Only time will tell. I plan to take all the time necessary to find out. Working this out is 1 part adventure and 3 parts practice.

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