Over the past few months you may have noticed some changes in the glazes I've been offering. I used to love the evenness of a good, high gloss glaze (not an easy thing to achieve in ceramics), but I've grown more and more inclined to embrace the unexpected nature of handmade glazes. Why fight a good thing?
To finally finish my BA degree this past fall (ten years in the making), I took one last ceramics class. I had the opportunity to use totally different glazes in the school studio, and to fire these pieces in a wood burning kiln. This was a first for me and I was pretty stumped by the neutral palette that was available, and 100% terrified of what would happen to my pots once they were placed in the wood kiln. To heat the kiln, flames are stoked for hours and hours, with massive flames lick the pieces during the firing. The whole process took an entire weekend. Lots of wood, lots of fire, lots of man power. And all completely out of my hands.
My usual firings in an electric kiln are by comparison much tamer, and much easier to anticipate the final results. I do still have multiple pieces per firing that don't go as planned. All of you new potters reading this, make a note-- that doesn't ever completely change. It's part of why I love (and at times, hate) ceramics. It's an ongoing process of learning to let go, reevaluate, adapt, and move forward.
Taking this last ceramics class allowed me to do all of those things. Even though ceramics itself is nowhere near "new" to me, firing in this way was. And it forced me to accept a lot of uncomfortable unknowns. As a result I realized and remembered how exciting that can be: To take it in, breathe deep, and just let it happen.
I've watched my palette change ever so slightly as a result. I certainly don't foresee a switch over to all tans, browns, and muddy blues, that's still not my thing. Give me bright pink and gold any day. But I notice myself relaxing a bit more with my glaze application and experimenting more with new finishes, like the purpley matte glaze on the platter in the above photo perfectly at home among the wood fired pieces, and these ring dishes.
So if you've been contemplating trying something new, or just tweaking an old method to breathe fresh life into it, here's a little push. You'll be surprised how much one new thing can change your perspective, even if you've barely moved.