This last woodfiring at Tye River Pottery (Kevin Crowe's kiln) was bittersweet. Others have written about it more eloquently, but as this was the first woodkiln I was ever involved with firing, the fact that the current three-chamber kiln is in the process of being torn down and rebuilt as a one-chamber kiln meant that the May firing was a bit more sentimental and special than those over the last few years since I joined the crew. So good to see so many good friends and reconnect. And the pots were an added bonus. I am going to miss the Salt chamber.
It's been a while - too long - since I've touched clay in any meaningful, transformative way. In October, I got a promotion in the midst of a reorganization of my department (Marketing) at work. It's a really great opportunity, and I've really been enjoying my work for the last few months, but we've been incredibly busy, so I haven't had much time for clay.
Largely because of that, I stepped down from my duties as webmaster/social media manager for City Clay here in Charlottesville. I wasn't able to find time to make pots, let alone give the marketing of the studio the attention it needed and deserved.
Because I also have not been firing at City Clay - they only have cone 6 electric kilns currently, and I was having a hard time getting excited about any of the surfaces I was able to get - I decided it would be far more practical to relinquish my studio space and put the monthly rent I would have paid into my own wheel. I've set up a small personal studio in my attic - right now the wheel plus shelves for drying/storing pots - soon a small table for handbuilding/assembling and a wedging/drying station. My wheel - a work horse in a Brent CXC - arrived today and I broke my dry spell with a few teabowls.
I have to say, it's good to be back.
I'm much delayed in posting pots from the Spring 2014 firing at Tye River Pottery - heading across the globe to Hong Kong for two months just days after unloading the kiln put me behind schedule. Photos are below.
Speaking of Hong Kong, you can follow my travels there at my travel blog: asianrambles.weebly.com
To see posts specifically about the pots and potters I see during my travels in Hong Kong and Japan, click on the Pottery tag in the right hand navigation.
Without further ado...
By all accounts, the fall firing this year was a huge success. Here are a few images of the pots I got from the kiln. Thanks to Kevin and the rest of the crew for a phenomenal time - even though I was in the midst of recuperating from LASIK.
A selection of the below pots is currently available in my Etsy store.
This afternoon, I'll be heading down to Tye River Pottery to glaze and wad pots for the kiln. This will be my third full-firing experience, and the fourth time I'll have pots in the kiln. Again, I'm using clay I'm unfamiliar with, but this time, it's primarily a clay that has experienced great results in the kiln - a mixture of one-third Soldate 60 and two-thirds B-Mix Wood that Kevin himself uses for many of his pots. We're also doing a longer firing than past years, which will hopefully lay good ash down on the pots.
I have no doubts that all will be well, even if something is damaged in transit. It will be a nice reprieve to spend the afternoon at Kevin's, as it always is, and a tantalizing taste of the way of life that waits for me during the firing. Good conversations, thoughtful work, and a warm bowl or two of tea will carry me through this day.
I've recently been experimenting more with throwing in series. For a long time I was antagonistic toward this kind of a process. I didn't want to be a production potter. I didn't want every form to be the same - and really, I still don't. Working with Kevin Crowe over the last year has taught me otherwise. There is good that comes out of striving toward some sort of regularity. It lends kind of coherence to a set of pots that is incredibly hard to achieve in other ways. For me, this regularity comes in the base pot, right before the final alterations that I make to give the piece organic movement.
Several other students and members at the studio have commented on how productive I've been in the last few weeks, and my shelf certainly feels that way - I'm constantly cramped for space. It's a necessary outcome of this process. When I sit down at the wheel anymore, I'm rarely throwing different forms or different weights of clay. Instead, it's 4 to 6 balls or cones of approximately the same size and I'm, like Kevin, using the measurements of my hands to make sure the end products are very similar, at least until I alter them.