February 18, 2014

Going Local for Ceramic Art

My last pit firing yielded the best results yet. The clay that was locally mined remained stable and did not crack or explode in the fire. The colors were exactly what I had hoped for. I had been trying to get dramatic changes from light to dark with patterning and good color variations. This was accomplished by adding sea salt and copper carbonate to the organic matter in my outdoor pit kiln. Smothering the fire with local Spanish moss helped create the dark black patches that I desired.

Almost everything that went into the lidded vessel above was obtained locally. The clay came from a tributary of the Edisto River. The wood and organic matter were also obtained from the nearby park and from my back yard. It was something of a miracle that a vessel such as this one could emerge almost entirely from the processing of materials within a mile radius of my home. What was added that was not local was the copper carbonate that I had on hand from a ceramic course I took years ago in the Netherlands. I had considered burnishing the surface of the red clay to be a purist in my cottage industry but I could not resist using my terra sigillata glaze made from blue and green commercial underglaze colors mixed with a homemade terra sigillata base.

As I don’t have a wheel, this vessel was made entirely by pinch and coiling. The lid was made by running a blade attached to a template around the upper perimeter of the form. I still need to polish my skills at doing this.

This lidded vessel was originally designed as a funerary urn for a departed friend who I miss very much. I like to think that it turned out well because I took care for this to be a final resting place. But it may turn out not to be quite large enough. I’ll be making more of these to find something that is just the right fit and because I do like the form.

1 comment:

lee said...

fabulous color!