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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tea-bowl for Luba Evans, #8 of 36, "Omphalos"

     "The tiny pin prick on this bowl,
      Defeats perfection, that has no soul."

I'm up to tea-bowl #8.

Let's talk a bit about wood-fired Shino stoneware. Usually, unless there's a complete change of stoking direction during the firing, almost always there's a side of every pot that faces the fire, that gets hit by more ash, and a side that faces away from the fire, that 'flashes' or gets color, from the backdraft of the flame.

Every kiln has a different personality, places that are hotter, cooler, more oxidized, more reduced. But even this basic character changed with each firing, due to how the kiln is loaded.

The fire, through some massive contemplation, chooses the best route to move it's gases and allow energy to escape from the burning fuel. It's a little like navigating a canoe down a river. There's places where the current is deep and swift, and places where it's shallow and slow.

There's no such thing as better or worse, rather, you hope to put work in the part of the kiln where the type of fire that passes over and around it, improves the result.

In the case of this tea-bowl - you're looking at the backside. The flame swirled up over the opposite lip and dumped ash onto the glazed surface, which fluxed the drips you see going down the inside. Where ash did not hit on the inside there's a deep red-brown, the color of the glaze in deep reduction on this clay.

In the eye of the shadow of the flame on this cup, there's a dimple!

A tiny pinprick, where the glaze crawled away from the clay. This rarely happens with Shino as a development during the firing, at least not with my pots. Most likely the glaze just decided not to adhere to that spot when I dipped it. Were it facing the fire, the ash would have fluxed the hell out of the clay and that little bit of personality would have been wiped away.

This pin-crawling effect has happened with a few of my temoku pieces, an 'orange-peel' texture that has lots of little pinpricks that stipple the black surface.

Here there's just one - this cup has a navel.

It goes to an old friend, Luba Evans.


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