Saturday, October 19, 2013

North Carolina memories

Southern Oregon is lovely, but it can't match the fall splendor of the mountains of western North Carolina and the New England states. I still miss North Carolina - dear friends, the beauty, and the ability to do the soda work I so loved.

It takes a long time to find one's voice in clay, and I found mine in my soda/salt fired work. I've been in a bit of a funk after the surgery - maybe had too much time on my hands to sit and feel a wee bit sorry for myself with what I had to leave behind. As a result, I'm finding it very difficult to get my passion up to get into the studio and get to work. The thought of giving it up altogether has cross my mind more than once; but in the end I knew I would miss it terribly so it was time to analyze my current situation with a clear head, and get beyond this momentary self pity, which has not contributed anything positive to my life. It's time to analyze where I am and focus on the possibilities of the future rather than the losses of the past.

I don't feel the earthenware is what I want to do, although I love the look; but don't like the delicacy and limits of the body. My tiny soda kiln is not a viable choice for anything more than a once or twice a year firing of a few pots for myself or the family. So where do I go to find my mojo?  This is what I've been pondering during this healing process, since I've been healing more than just my body. My age and it's limits are another consideration. One of the possibilities is switching to a cone 6 body that I can use for Cone 6 oxidation in my larger Skutt kiln as well as for soda. But what kind of cone 6 work do I do? My forms would translate to both but a white or light stoneware body would remove the things I love about the red earthenware, which is the use of the body color as a decorating element.  I am absolutely sure that I do not want to always have two different clay bodies in the studio as part of on going work.

So here are the options:  Down the line when I catch up with the current  earthenware and soda pots which need firing, I can switch to an earthenware colored cone 6 body for oxidation (we have two very good possibilities here on the west coast), and go against my own "only 1 clay body in the studio". Since I would do so little work in the soda which would make it workable, and I could use some of the same slips and some of the same glazes for both.

Next option is to forget about the quest for the lovely look of earthenware but in a stronger, less problematic cone 6 body, and just use a white or light stoneware that would be suitable for both the Cone 6 soda and cone 6 oxidation.

Third option is just to hang it all up; but I've already decided that I wouldn't be happy with that.

Now that I've put it down in black and white and re-read it, and contemplated it a bit more, I think I'm leaning to the first option. At least it will be worth a try. I can use the red body the way I've used it at cone 04-03, but I can also come up with cone  6 glazes for over the white slip, and not use the body color as part of the decoration, giving me two looks for the Cone 6 oxidation.. I already have a lot of cone 6 oxidation glazes of my own and others creations, that I tested years ago, And,  I can focus on form more than glaze colors so I don't have to have twenty glaze buckets to deal with. I once had 30 and that is never going to happen again - no desire and no room for them.

To that end I will be focusing on two liners, a temmoku, and a bright blue cobalt colored celadon that would work for both..  A clear for the oxidation earthenware look, and an  oribe green or teal which would suit some of my smaller functional pieces and work for both soda and oxidation, and also work as an accent glaze as well. 

I can use the current earthenware slips for the oxidation pots and would just have to make one flashing slip for soda (I had several before).

Now that I think I've got that figured out, it's time to get tomorrows pizza dough started and get my sourdough starter fed for tomorrow mornings sourdough pancakes. Then I'll be off to the studio after lunch and take with me a more positive, and optimistic attitude. I need to check if I have enough lined and decorated soda pots to fill that tiny soda kiln and get it fired in a couple of days. My draw rings and cone packs are made and dried and I just have to make a tiny batch of wadding and batch a cup of my blue accent glaze for a couple of the pots. It's all doable before the end of the day tomorrow.


  1. Lots of NC folks (including me) miss you, June. You'll find a new direction soon -- I'm looking forward to seeing your new works. Good luck!

  2. June, as you probably know from my blog I have had similar pity parties and conversations with myself. I have basically taken this year off from clay because of my firing limitations and my missing mojo. I have also considered the ^6 route and I have some really nice glazes from the studios I have worked in. Happy to share them if you want any. I have found that doing other things besides clay has helped a lot and I actually got back in the studio last week and did a little work. You have dedicated so much time and energy to getting your new studio set up, seems like you aren't quite ready to give it up just yet, but I hear ya on the age thing! Clay is a dirty and difficult craft!
    Taking time off to think things through has been a really good process for me, I hope it's the same for you
    yes, NC is wonderful, but so is the west coast!

  3. Hi June,
    You really have been going through a tough time by the sound of things, and I do hope that you heal and find strength and stamina to enable you to continue working with clay. I had my own setback earlier this year with my health, and thought I would have to give up working with clay, but am returning to it again now. Like you, I did a lot of thinking about the sort of work with clay I would do in future, and I do find myself now working differently than I did before, disgarding some of the things that I once did, and having a clearer focus. I also want to rid myself of too many glazes, bodies, and temperatures. Whilst the setback was truly miserable for quite some time, I have to say that I have more pleasure now in working on the wheel than I have had for several years, even if my output has to be somewhat limited.

    I know I've said this before, but thank you so much for the cone 6 and cone 10 glazes that you have put on your website, it is a marvellous resorce and your comments with the glazes are very helpful. If anyone asks me for glaze recipes, I generally send them to your website. No doubt there are potters all over the world who have been quietly assisted by you through your technical pages.

    I nearly forgot to say, the photo of the trees with their fall colours is beautiful. It almost looks like a garden full of flowers.

    Kind Thoughts,

  4. Thanks everyone. It was so lovely to read your comments and your encouragement.It really lifted my spirit ! Got off my butt yesterday and worked through it.