Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Kiln Opening

One thing that potter's share, doesn't matter what type of clay, whether you mix your own glazes or use commercial premixed glazes, whether you form works by hand or throw on the potter's wheel, we all share the joys of a kiln opening.

After working diligently, for sometimes weeks, on a piece the culmination of our efforts comes on the day of the kiln opening. If it's a group kiln load there's usually a celebration that has food as an ingredient. There are oo's and ah's shared and usually an informal critique of what went right and what went not so right.

As a solo potter, I rarely have anyone around with the exception of our dog, sometimes my husband, to share my joy and sorrow over the kiln opening. So, my kiln opening party has to be a virtual one shared with potter friends over the net. Thank goodness for the internet!

Why are we so excited about kiln openings? What's the big deal? Well, for me it's all about working on a piece for sometimes weeks. I often wish that I could just stop after the glaze painting is finished. Sometimes the load is magnificent, everything is perfect and the kiln goddess was smiling down on me. Other times there are problems. So many variables can come into play, heat, circulation, dust in the glaze, venting, and the list goes on and on. We have this point in time when the piece either makes it or breaks it. Stress levels rise even more when there are pieces in the load that are part of an order. If something goes wrong it sets back the schedule and at the holidays this can be critical.

We never want to trash a piece, especially if a lot of time went into it. But one thing that I learned from the college experience is that each piece is a learning process. Even if it gets thrown into the shard bucket a lesson of some sort was learned.


Mostly Art said...

Wonderful blog post! Yes, the magic is always there, with every opening, no matter how you get there. Thank you for the smile today thinking about it :)

Graciela Testa Lynt said...

Judy~~ You really captured it! Opening the kiln is "hold your breath" time for me... It's like opening a birthday present when things work out, isn't it? Lovely butterfly dish on top!!