Popular Posts

Friday, June 22, 2012

Early Work: Genesis Metamorphasis

Hand building ceramics was not my first choice of technique for constructing my pieces. It required varying levels of "stopping and waiting" so the next working staging could take place. If you tried to work it when it was too wet still, it would collapse. If you waited too long, it would dry out and you wouldn't be able to  do anything further with it.

I was experimenting with wheel thrown and altered shaping and I really like that "cracked open" design. I wanted to do bigger versions of "pods", but back then, I wasn't skilled enough to get my wheel thrown pieces to a larger size that I was hoping for; The 12"-14" range. I was stuck at the 4"-6' ones that couldn't provide the presence I wanted.

I reluctantly hand built it. When completed, it was the size I had envisioned it to be. This piece took over a month to construct and another month to dry completely. I was planning to glaze it with the copper-based, patina green ones that I had done with the other smaller pieces. But when I was approached by one of the intermediate ceramic teachers from the class who was planning on doing a Raku firing, I decided to give that a try. Up until then, I had only heard of Raku but had never tried it.

On Raku day, when he saw me show up with my "big piece", he was a little reluctant.  He was expecting my "little pieces" he knew I normally made.  He had never done a Raku on a completely round, big piece before.

Firing big items by Raku is not only challenging but dangerous too. It requires pulling a glowing hot piece with temperatures around 2000 degrees, out of a kiln, held with a pair of long tongs and plunging it into combustable materials (leaves, newspaper)  and then dunked into water to cool. Special goggles have to be worn to protect the corneas of your eyes and fire proof gloves to protect hands and forearms from getting burnt.

He advised me that it could break from where the tongs needed to be placed, in the cracked open area. My response: "I've come too far to quit now. Fire up that BBQ!"

It safely made it through the "process of extremes" and was selected into a juried show the following year.

Although I've never made any more of these big-size creations, the found memories of the process and the desire to keep "pushing my boundaries" have been a guiding path with other things.