Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Learning to fly......

I got pushed out of my comfortable nest recently by my rusty old kiln breaking down. I am now the nervous, proud owner of a lovely newish one!

I finished a a big order to fill the new kiln on Monday. I felt funny about this order as it included a lot of plates and I don't really make plates as a production item. Against my better judgment I made the plates and stacked up the new kiln, and started the firing. It seemed to me like gas was just roaring out of the jets, and I wasn't really in control of the firing like I used to be with the rusty old monster.

The temperature was galloping up. When it came time to turn on the final two gas jets they were blocked! They spluttered and guttered leaving me with the horrible, dull "Boof!" of pots exploding in the kiln. I then had to nurse the temperature back down slowly, knowing all the time that I would open the kiln tomorrow to certain carnage.....

....which I did.

This is a lesson I learn time and time again, if I have misgivings about a project it is not superstition, it is because I am experienced. Those misgivings are all my years of experience telling me "This project is not right. Stay Away!"

I think it's important for artists who speak about their practice to tell emerging artists and their peers about their frustrations as well as successes. I don't know if many other potters experience these moments, they probably find it too depressing to speak about.

.......It's still the best job in the world.


Florence said...


you have been teilling me that you don't like the plate as a surface for your painting .....

still a crushing shame I would have loved to see what they would have been like.

with much love,

one black bird said...

i know exactly that sinking feeling (which is usually felt in the stomach)when something is not right about a project. i am (very slowly) getting used to saying "no" when i get "the" feeling. the desire to please people and be a "yes" person often over-rides our better judgement that has been well honed by our past experiences and the fact that we are professionals DO know what we are doing. i'd rather say no than have to give reasons why this or that didn't turn out and risk upsetting a client. taking the time to explain it also takes as much time (and energy) as it does to make the work. in the end everyone suffers.

so sorry to hear about your kiln disaster. those kiln gods sure to get awful hungry (and greedy) sometimes...

Mel Robson said...

oh bummer! I had a recent mishap too! A very overfired kiln and lots of blistery bubbles!

And I hate making plates too!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing ALL your experiences :) Can't believe I haven't come across your work before,
Love your leaf designs.
Hope the next firing is excellent!
a budding ceramist

carole epp said...

my last plate firing was a disaster as well, even though i had done a test, the new plates were slightly different and all slumped onto the shelves resulting in much grinding!
best of luck for next time!

Kirsty Hall said...

Oh, this is so true and I love the reframing of it as 'experience' instead of superstition - I'm sure it's a far more accurate summation but it's so easy to think 'oh, I'm just being silly'. I used to know someone who referred to that niggling little voice as her 'spider sense' - she taught me a lot about the importance of listening to that voice.

karen harper said...

What a lovely site to pass over and you have instantly reminded me that I am not alone in the learn to say 'no' when the instinct kicks in.
Your blog is one I will enjoy telling people about. I write a newsletter to over 600 crafts people in Ireland and am about to delve into the blog world and show them how successful a place it is to get support and learn from others. Thanks for sharing this rotten experience,
Karen Harper