PREVIEW – Firing “EM” – April 2018
One of the delights of firing our newer, three-chamber kiln is the wide variety of glaze options it provides. The pots from firing “EM” exemplify this, dramatically. Applying our accumulated knowledge of the kiln and firing process, Hamish, Stillman, and I experimented excitedly this production cycle and we’re delighted by the results.
Chamber 1 produced some luxurious celadons, calm blues and greens highlighted by slip-trailed decorations in pink, yellow, and green, which provide a cheerful accent to the pots.
Chamber 2 housed my massive pots, some over 5 feet tall and weighing 350lbs., glazed in the alkaline, or ash glaze traditional to the Catawba Valley of the Western Piedmont of North Carolina. The huge jars and vases are spectacular, all drippy green, streaked with glass runs, and are my ongoing homage to Daniel Seagle, his son James Franklin, and apprentice Isaac Lefevers, who made their glorious pots 150 years ago.
We decided to salt Chamber 3 this time, which we hadn’t done before, and the results are delightful. The interaction of the salt with the clay and glaze surfaces causes a magical transformation when it’s blown into the kiln at high temperature. The clay becomes stippled, like orange peel, and the celadons become turquoise. Indeed, all the slips and other glazes are serendipitously shifted by the salting’s atmospheric complexity.
I’m particularly excited about a few small tumblers that have bold brush marks on them in the bright-colored slips. Watch out for more of these later.
Meanwhile enjoy this batch of pots. They are our dreams and actions over the last four months, made to give pleasure to the users.
And if the pots aren’t enough to bring you out this weekend or next, our place is looking wonderful. Spring is here at last. I hope it gets everywhere else eventually!
Hamish Jackson’s pots
Spring is here! The mosquitoes are just beginning to appear again, the first asparagus shoots have sprung, and the worms are waking up from their winter slumber. I’ve been at the Hewitt Pottery for almost three years now and am making strides with my throwing skills. It’s exciting to see and feel progress — it’s a slow game, this pottery business.
We fired Mark’s newer wood kiln on a very dreary rainy day a couple of weeks ago. When the heat got too intense we just went outside and stood in the rain. We salted the third chamber of the kiln for the first time, to great effect — some of the juiciest pots came out of here and we’ll definitely be repeating this next firing in the summer.
In March, Mark very kindly took Stillman and I to NCECA (the big ceramics conference) in Pittsburgh. We met many great potters and saw some excellent lectures and shows. Despite the freezing weather, we had a marvelous time.
I hope you like the pots! Some of my favorites are some straight vases and pitchers that I made.
Quick bee update: the bee hives in Mark’s orchard that I look after went into the winter with four hives, lost two, but we’re back up to three.
Stillman Browning-Howe’s pots
Pittsboro set some records this winter, most notably we had over 158 consecutive hours below freezing, and it just happened to coincide with our holiday break. With no one here keeping a fire going, the cold managed to creep its way into the studio. When I arrived for the first day of work on January 8th, everything was frozen. Seven thousand pounds of prepared clay, every glaze bucket, even our pug mills, frozen solid. With Mark still in England I had a few days to remedy the problem. I quickly lit fires in both wood stoves, plugging in all of our electric heaters, and turned on a couple fans to circulate the heat. After 2 days of hot fires things finally thawed and we could start making pots again, and here are a few of the pots I’ve made since then.