Friday, January 9, 2015

As The Wheel Turns: Firing and Faith.

I'm firing a glaze load in my kiln today.  It's an essential step to producing functional ceramics and my least favorite part of the process.  Because it's the most scary for me.

Why? Because it's the step where I have the least control.

When I'm throwing at the wheel, I can go fast or slow.  Stop when it feels right.  Decide the piece is a keeper or keep working.  At the under glazing stage, I decide what colors go where.  How much detail I want.  Whether I do a stamp or sgraffito design.

Bisque stage is easy.  The pieces go into the kiln and out they come.  A little sanding might be needed or another layer of color but that's it, really.

Enter firing.

Glaze firing is a whole different chapter and one filled with potential dangers that threaten to take a good piece down the road to ruin and the trash can out back.  The glaze can bubble, crack or peel.  It can be too thin, so the piece isn't well covered or too thick so the underglaze painting and detail I did is lost.  Or the clay can be faulty and bloat during the final firing phase making a successful piece that took weeks to complete, a failure in just hours.  I've researched glazes, glazing methods, meticulously recorded my firing results.  Sometimes it's good, and sometimes not.

Enter faith.

It may be my word of the year, but it's not something I've ever really embraced.  You could say that for most of my life, I've had very little faith in faith.  I realize I've always thought of faith as a cop out.  Something people said or did when they couldn't or wouldn't take action.  And I've always viewed situations from an active perspective of research, method and results.

But once I close that kiln lid, all my work is done.  I've gone as far as I can go by myself. The rest is up to time and temperature. And, well, faith.

It's a new year with new work and a new word.  Faith.

Maybe it's time to have a little more of it.  My dog, Jilly, seems to have it.

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