Many of the art and functional pieces I create are fired in a small electric kiln in my studio. Each piece is hand built or thrown, then bisque fired to electric cone 04 (1944° F). This process takes about 7 1/2 hours, then approximately 8 hours to cool enough to be removed from the kiln. The cooled pots are cleaned and glazed using a variety of different glazes I have chosen because of the color, texture, surface and beauty. I use a high-fire stoneware in brown, dark brown, light brown with speckles, white or ^6 porcelain.
Once a piece is thrown, trimmed, its decoration is added and allowed to dry thoroughly, it is placed in the kiln for bisque firing. The brown stoneware pieces, once bisque fired, turn pink because of the iron content in the clay. During the second firing, the unglazed clay turns a soft honey-brown.
At the bisque stage, each piece is glazed then returned to the kiln for a ^6 firing to a temperature of 2244° F. It takes approximately 8 1/2 hours to fully fire a glaze load.
Then it takes about the same length of time for the kiln to completely cool, allowing it to be unloaded. Pottery is most certainly not an art for the impatient!
Start to finish, I rarely see a piece completed in under 2 weeks, considering throwing, drying, scheduling a firing, glazing and scheduling another firing. But the anticipation is half the fun. I love kiln openings, even after all these years it feels like something new all over again!
I love to experiment with color, texture using all kinds of found objects to create new textures. I also love the feel of the leather-hard clay and carve designs, patterns, shapes and textures, then wait to see how the glaze reacts over the surfaces.
Many of my cone 6 pieces are functional pieces can be used everyday, washed in the dishwasher, heated in the microwave. I use food-safe glazes for all my functional pieces. Some pieces are purely for decoration, like my floral plates.
I never know when I sit down to at the wheel what is going to emerge. I allow the clay and my mood to dictate what the final piece will be. When I am relaxed and have a good block of time, my designs are more intricate. When work calls me away from my pottery, I may throw mugs and bowls with very little decoration. Regardless, the clay is my balance, one thing that centers me and allows me to relax. I make pottery because I love the entire process. I create because I have the need to create. There may be days or weeks that rush past where I am too busy to create in my studio. Those are days when I feel little and just react. They are necessary to sustain my lifestyle. Working in clay is necessary to sustain my life. If no one bought my pieces, I would still create. I would probably be a hoarder of my art, with totes to the ceiling filled with pieces I created. But luckily, people seem to like my art and buy it. It pleases me to see someone latch onto a piece they must have. It makes me happy to make things that make other people smile. And the richest gift of all is when someone understands my reason for creating!
I do traveling demonstrations for the sheer joy of watching the reaction of children who have never seen a lump of clay formed into a vase or bowl or cup or pitcher. And, if, in my demonstrations, I can plant a seed that helps someone to mature into a fan of the arts who loves and participates in creating art, then I have done something worthwhile!