firing rudy

i don’t know how i got through school with out ever firing a gas kiln, but i did.  now, looking back, i think it’s too bad.  but a big goal for me this year is to increase my technical skill and build on the firings i did in japan.

atmospheric finishes and high firing may not come into play in my work naturally.   i’m a form girl.  i work hard on intricate surfaces, smooth or textured, small details repeated, layers built up.  i enjoy a plain finish that lets the form speak but i certainly don’t want what i do to be dictated by my lack of technical skill.

r told me how he became kiln tech.  he said he wanted to know how everything worked.  didn’t want to leave his pot’s surface up to chance so he asked tons of questions, followed people as they fired, read past logs and one day the kiln tech left and, having never fired a kiln solo, he was the new kiln tech.

tuesday r had rudy, our minnesota flat top, loaded and the salt kiln cranking. under r’s tutelage i lit the pilot’s and we agreed to meet at 10 pm to fire.  before i left i got to test my skill by putting the salt kiln into body reduction and taking out right before leaving for the day.  went home for 2 hours of sleep then back to the studio.

we started doing turn ups, me checking with r while he worked on a stalling salt kiln outside.  i glazed, filled an electric kiln and continued turning rudy up.  near dawn we put rudy into body reduction, and headed outside to finally salt the salt kiln.  i felt really lucky to do the salting since i hadn’t endured through the rest of the firing.  as the salt spilled into the kiln, crackling in the heat, violet, lavender and sunshine flames and white smoke poured from the ports.  it was freaking glorious.

finally around 6 am i left to get some sleep before glaze reduction and before having to start work at creative clay.  unfortunately rudy wasn’t ready in time so i had to miss the end of the firing, but next time.  i saw the work which came out of both kilns today and i felt kind of connected to it.

*presents* and sexually transmitted infections

matt long and his students were visiting in january and they tore down and rebuilt our soda kiln.  today r, our lovely kiln tech was putting the finishing touches on the burners.  he and b have been working hard on it and i’m hoping we’ll fire it up this week.  i’d like to get the garlic in if possible.  i think that it would look super in a soda fire.

recently i have been interested in jason briggs’ work.  actually i fell in love with it when i saw it in the exhibition “biomimicry” at the 2004 NCECA.  it was totally awe inspiring.  it was one of the pieces which i looked at and saw in it so much visual language that i wish i could speak.  if you know what i mean.  it seemed perfect, more exquisite than is possible to make by hand.

recently i googled his website (why had this never occurred to me??) and was delighted with what i found.  his site has lots of information and images as well as a image loop showing a piece from start to finish.  in lieu of seeing briggs demo in person, i was pretty satisfied by viewing his site.  it’s here.

seeing the progression of his work and reading about his process really gave me a different perspective on atmospheric firings.  i guess i think of them in a rustic kind of way.  though i see the amazing way they work out for other folks i hadn’t really thought they were right for my work.  his chicken skin speckaly, bumpily blushes really turned that thinking around and has given me a fresh perspective on atmospheric firings.  yeah!

this week i finished a set of slab plates with sgraffito.  they are for a doctor at work and they feature a stylized pneumocystis pneumoniea (sp??) carving.  i had a mishap with one and had set it aside and today i went at it with the carving tool and fashioned a  “syphilis” plate, the first in what promises to be an exciting series.  next up, chlamydia, gonnorhea and trichamonis. note, i am only featuring curable infections.  non-curable infections are way too much of a bummer.

yeah facebook, 25 things.

1. i have learned a lot of fascinating things reading these lists. 2. i can’t smell. seriously, not at all, but i can taste, perhaps poorly. 3. i’m not vegetarian. 4. i bite my nails. 5. i’m addicted to american sitcoms and dramas. 6.  7. i like blood. as long as it’s not my own. and there’s a good reason for it to be around. i mean, i don’t like massacres or such things but i do like phlebotomy. 8. if i fail as an artist i want to be a nurse or surgical technician. 9. i work better with a deadline. 10. my house got broken into a month ago. nothing of mine was stolen. 11. i always over indulge when there are books involved. i bought 3 books by bell hooks at her talk yesterday. 12. my greatest addiction/weakness is sugar. i also over indulge when there is sugar involved. 13. i like tequila shots, with lemon wedges and salt. 14. i love to read. 15. i don’t like to draw. 16. i’ve kept journals since i was 18. i save them all, along with daily planners, sketchbooks and letters. 17. i own very little. most of what i own falls into catagories: books/journals, clothes, pottery other people made, special kitchen things, and trinkets/chotchkes/art that other people made. 18. i don’t believe in god and i don’t give a shit about germs. 19. if it’s not meat or milk, i don’t care about expiration dates. if it is meat or milk, or fresh produce for that matter i want to eat it while it’s fresh anyway. 20. i’ve been in jail once. for 4 1/2 days. being in jail sucked, consensus meetings held with everyone in the cell block were pretty awe inspiring. 21. i still feel sad when i think about masa. 22. my goal every day is to act as though i am still innocent and the world is an amazing place with tons of potential. 23. i believe that the universe provides and what we need will come to us as long as we act. 24. twice this week someone picked up my tab at a restaurant which was super nice! 25. i believe in mutual aid.

be productive, b-e productive

today was a great work day at the studio.  right now i’m obsessed with slump molds.  i’ve been using some i borrowed from b to make my wall pieces and had been meaning to pour my own for a month or so now and today i powered through three of each size.  i also rolled slabs for all the slump molds i already have (also did this yesterday) and now i have 7 slumped slabs ready to build wall pieces from.  friday night i got a few more wall pieces out of a bisque fire and my collection of bisqued wall pieces in growing.  i need to glaze these puppies and get them up on my etsy site asap (but trying to quiet the internal critic, it’ll get done).  once i get the photos done i can get them up on my retail shelf at the clay co and hopefully make some cash.

anyway, i also worked on a little birthday present project for my brother.  he requested a garlic shaped wall hanging with the words “garlic isn’t a spice, it’s a vegetable.” inscribed.  today i rolled out some luscious porcelain which i trimmed into a stylized head of garlic embellished with some simple lines.  i had intended to stamp the words (with stamps also borrowed from b right into the garlic but i stamped up some scraps to start blocking out the words and it looked so cute that i decided to stamp the phrase out on little slabs of clay which i attached separately to the garlic.

while this garlic isn’t cutting edge art but i have to say i really enjoyed getting a request and executing  it.  kitch is so satisfying!  sometimes it can feel so difficult to make what’s in your head come out of the clay.  it feels like doing some kind of math problem but there are no signs for multiply or subtract.  like j said one night when she was working on her coils and i was working on my belly buttons “you just have to roll them until they’re right.”  i think folks who are really successful have found a systematic way to extract their visions and that i’m still very green artistically, working intuitively but needing to move to the next step.  i’ve always had this fascination with idiot savants though so maybe that’s what i’m going for……

ideas for my next body of work are congealing and i think i will start posting pictures again soon.

p.s. just a note on new year’s resolutions i haven’t failed at:   today from about 4-6 pm i took a break to bike up the pinellas trail a bit with k.  we’ve been trying to go every week and it’s really delightful.  we’re doing 6-10 miles in a couple of hours, which isn’t too bad for beginners (of course there are a lot of hard core bikers on the trail, flying by us and i did get yelled at the first day for meandering over into the passing lane while chatting with k and m-“trail! trail! heh heh) and we’re improving!  and it feels great!  physical activity just can not be beat!