Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grapefruit will break your heart

This was my first successful cylinder, ca. 1989. Made at Barry University in Miami Shores back when my aunt was teaching ceramics there. I had been trying to throw for about a month. Not much was coming off the wheel in one piece. Up until this point, I had been glazing my "pots" with Duncan underglazes and low fire glazes. I was completely bored with the palette of colors and textures that came out of these tiny cups. I wanted stuff with life, texture... what I really wanted was a higher temperature (gas reduction!)... but that was still a ways off.

Seeing my frustration, my aunt suggested I make my own glazes. She handed me Chappell's Potter's Complete Book of Clay and Glazes and said: go to it. I had no idea what these materials were, or how they worked. No clue about toxicity. Not an inkling about protecting my health.

I started reading and found a glaze called Grapefruit Green. I have always been a fool for greens and blues. I thought that Grapefruit Green sounded so cool. I imagined an unripe grapefruit, much like what my parent's had in their backyard in Miami. Having hit thousands of them with the lawnmower, I was pretty sure what to expect.

The glaze turned out so incredibly different from what I expected. I think if it had turned out green, it probably would have been tossed like so many of the pots from this era. Instead, it has traveled with me as I have moved across the country so many times. Not a terribly functional size. You can't really drink coffee or tea from it. It holds pennies well. That's about it. The sides and bottom are incredibly thick. As a pot, there is precious little that redeems it. That color however was my first glimpse into a world that would become my life for over 20 years.

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