– MY PEACE
I use RAKU clay – it’s rich with grog, a substance that
allows the clay to shrink and expand with temperature fluctuations
in the kiln and fire. Raku clay is malleable and forgiving. Porcelain
is malleable but so pure it does not shrink or expand; it has a
memory and is less forgiving.
I kneed and roll the clay into long rolls, flatten them like ribbons
and then stack them on top of one and another to form a rounded,
spiraled shell. The clay is soft so if I go too high, the shell
collapses – patience. I use my hands inside and out to smooth
and bond the ribbons of clay, and then I mold the shell continuously
until it takes on its own shape. Surprisingly, the bonding, the
molding, the creation occurs rapidly, as if all along the clay knew
its final form.
I stand the piece in air until it becomes bone dry. It is vulnerable
now; it could easily chip or break. Next, I carefully place the
piece in a large electric kiln and bisque it for hours beginning
low and going slow to the highest temperature.
In the meantime, I blend powered chemicals in water to make a glaze.
After the bisqueing, I paint the piece sometimes highlighting certain
areas or leaving areas bare to create black so as to contrast with
the colors. The shape and subtleties of the piece are now complete
– I let go of control.
Firing is a spiritual process for me. I sage the fire pit area;
use hard wood like oak, hickory or cherry - often cut and split
from our own property – and build a fire. I can see and feel
the intense heat as I carefully arrange the piece into the fire.
I sit in front of the fire for hours watching heat colors and dancing
flames paint the piece – they give the piece it’s soul.
A specific moment comes. I move to take the piece out. I have to
wear fire protective gear: a head and face shield, boots, a large
apron and huge asbestos mittens with a couple of fingers. Tongs
don’t work with the larger pieces. Its almost as if I have
to move into the fire, cradle the piece and gently usher it out.
I put the piece in a large trashcan full of combustibles, fan and
then smother the fire. It’s nearly over. I take the piece
out of the can and flush it with cool water.
I have learned to simply accept and thank nature for what is. From
clay, dust, water, wood, air and fire, a piece has been BORN.