Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Breaking Through the Crust
This is one of those platters where the upper surface is all craggy and muted and rough. Turns out, underneath all of that nastiness is rich color, fluid moving glazes... and yet you can only find that where the upper crust has broken through to revel this.
The first time this "breakthrough" happened, I was dismayed. A fellow grad student at Utah State thought it would be a good idea to pop some of the glaze bubbles on a platter... unbeknownst to me. Seeing the results after the fact, I wasn't thrilled. But as I lived with it, and came to see what was under those blistered glazes, I realized the tantalizing colors and fluid passages under the glaze.
About this same time (ca. 1998), I had an opportunity to visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. The feeling of being inside a lava tube is amazing. Nothing comes close. But to a potter, it is like being the glaze. You can shine your flashlight along the floor, walls, ceiling, and find beautiful fired rock that recalls tenmokku glazes, oil spot glazes, iridescent colors everywhere... but without light, it all seems one dark blob. Up on the surface of the lava tube, life is harsh, barren, cracked and scorched.
Fast forward a little more than a decade, and I can see my life's journey slowly unfolding in these new glazes on the platters. I had NO intention of ever re-creating a lava tube on a platter. Far be it from me to try to copy nature. It's been done enough, and done badly enough to scare me away from such pretense.
Looking deeper into these fissured and bubbling scorched platters though has encouraged me to look a little longer and deeper. Sometimes you find that geode, other times it's still just a rock.