Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Looking Down on the Last Gasp of a Poison Lake - 122198I

122198I, Looking Down on the Last Gasp of a Poison Lake,
17" diameter, $900, available

This was one of those platters that came into being, despite all my best intentions. It was never supposed to look like this. I have never been more glad to be disappointed. This particular combination of glazes was very susceptible to the phenomenon brought on by very slow cooling cycles. Due to the heavy load that I typically fired with, the cooling cycles were measured in days, not hours. In this firing there was over 900 pounds of brick in the stack, and over 600 pounds of shelves. That is a lot of refractory to heat and then to HOLD that heat! This firing took over 3 days to cool below 400F.

One of the things that I was made aware of while living in Utah, was the sad state of environmental responsibility within the department of mining (and reclamation). Yep, that's part of their name. I think all it really means is that they are supposed to put the dirt back in the same (or similar) hole that they dug it out of. It just doesn't work out that way.

I took the long way home once, through Montana, and stopped alongside the huge tailings from the Anaconda Copper Mine. These black sandy hills go on for a long long while. At the time, I had no idea about what was happening in terms of toxic effluent coming from the mine, or the bird kills that happened every winter (thousands of migrating birds die here, year after year)... all I knew was that they mined copper there.

When I got home to Utah, I read my first article talking about the toxins released into the waters that have flooded this mining site. Contaminated with everything from arsenic to selenium, the water is so acidic that it burns the flesh and feathers of anything it touches, essentially dooming any bird or animal who happens upon it. Bear in mind, this is in Montana... and a part of the state that isn't inundated with lakes and rivers. To say that it is dry would be an understatement. This man-made lake must seem an oasis to wildlife... and instead it is poison.

In essence, that is what drove the creation of a few of these particular platters...

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