Friday, May 17, 2013

Old Bowls, Old Friends

This porcelain bowl was made back when I was an undergraduate at UMASS/Amherst, and working on a series of copper red experiments. After struggling with firing copper red glazes in an old Alpine updraft kiln, I was invited to fire some pots in Michael Cohen's kiln. Some of my tests also were fired in Tom White's kiln. The hardest part was trying to get reproducible results. The Alpine updraft, while not a bad kiln, is certainly not what most people think of as a go-to kiln for great reduction glazes. Getting even reduction, and even temperature was a constant struggle. The upside to this was that is enabled me to visualize how things melted at different times, and how that contributed to the finished reduction surface. After graphing out 5 complete firings, every single pot in the kiln, where the glaze turned red, or blushed red, whether it was oxidized... all of that information was graphed out... I finally realized that early body reduction was critical for getting good reds. This bowl was fired in Mike Cohen's kiln (and dripped on one of his kiln shelves too). I love the long slow cooling that allowed the blue and red to separate and form delicate textures all over the bowl.

This old bowl was made about a year earlier, in Miami, when I was home for the summer. My friend Marc and I were trying to make pots together in a studio in Miami Shores. It was interesting seeing what we both liked and pushing each other to grow. When I look critically at this little bowl, I see that the glaze is too thin, the rim is sharp and harsh, the decoration on the inside of the bowl is boring. When I made it, I thought it was the bee's knees. I guess that is the nature of learning from our experiences. There is certainly nothing that makes this unusable as a bowl. If anything it informed all of the bowls that would follow it.

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