Monday, January 21, 2008
Every time I think I have the perfect formula for being in control of my pots something happens that teaches me not to be so smart in thinking I can control nature. I recently felt that I'd like to throw my pots a bit thinner, just to prove that I could and push the boundaries of the porcelain. Well the porcelain showed me that the boundaries I was pushing were not all about me. I developed these strange cracks in the belly of the pots. At first I thought they must have been contamination in the clay that I had inadvertently wedged in as the clay was prepared but after being scrupulously clean the same thing happened again.
I rang The Clay Shed for advice (something I've done many times over the years) and the incomparable Jackie Gasson went on a detective hunt for me. Eventually Jackie found the reason for these horrible cracks. In throwing just that tiny fraction thinner I had created a strain in the bowl which was caused by the rim and weight of the body of the bowl pushing downwards when the porcelain softened n the firing. Wanting to just relax and flop outwards the bowl was held in by the force of the throwing and so the belly just slumped downward.... creating these pressure cracks. David used the analogy of pushing down really hard on a huge block of cheese, once there is no more give cracks in the surface appear.
It just shows me (once again) that ceramics is all about working with nature , not controlling it.