Walking in Snow & Thinking of Wood-Firing

Today during the first snowfall of the year, I was procrastinating going down to the studio, when my friend M called to go for a walk. M's a teacher, and her school was closed today. When she has a day off, I often do not, but since I was being irresponsible anyway, I thought it would be good to be walking about out of doors. 

We passed tracks in the snow, human, squirrel and rabbit, but these were puzzling me as we walked and chatted.




Eventually I pointed out the strange tracks to M. "The overhead wires!" she said immediately. The snow had toppled randomly off the power lines with the wind, and left its prints in the snow below. These were not the prints of a wooly worm on crack hopping around on a chilly belly.

Random surfaces along the walk, like these tracks, made me think of wood fired pottery. I know- it's a tenuous connection- but so logical to a potter!

Firing with wood affects the glazes, with the ash flying around the kiln and landing on the pots, and the movement of the flames, which together make the glaze flow artfully in its molten phase. The slower the firing in the kiln, and the slower the cooldown once it's reach peak temperature, the more the tendency for some glazes to form crystals. It just so happened that the work of Randy Johnston came to mind, as I'd seen photos of it recently. 

Randy Johnstone pitcher; from www.mainecraftsguild.com

Chance plays a big part in the crystal formation and the runs of glaze down to the foot/ But just as overhead wires are up in the air by design, in the studio the glaze is put on with studied experience. Just as the snow dropping is a "happening," so too happenstance lies in the movement of heat and ash around the piece. 

Johnstone-McKeachie Bottle, www.marywood.edu

Just so in the kiln, too, is the crawling of a shino glaze on a wood fired bottle, with carbon settling into the waxed areas of either iron rich clay or iron oxide-brushed clay. The more you know clay, the more you can appreciate the marvelousness of this pot.

Randomness and intention. My motto for today. 

Posted on December 11, 2013 .