“One must have a mind of winter,” said Wallace Stevens, and in the cool white crackle of the shino glaze, above, with that smoky haze settling lightly on the edges of a few forms, I can feel winter’s approach. I was happy to get this last project completed just as snow began settling out by the kiln.
It is encouraging, of course, to feel the very-cold nights & imagine that a prodigious winter is approaching. You look eagerly at your skis, dusty from the long summer.
Limestone, chalk, marble, travertine - as well as pearls, seashells, and kale - these all contain calcium carbonate, a material used enthusiastically by potters all over. Potters usually buy this compound, CaCO3, as Whiting, and add it to stoneware glazes to promote hardness and translucence.
On the left, above, a bottle whose surface was thickly painted with a slip made from a brown clay found in the Chama river valley. Looks good, I thought…but how to make the glaze melt just a little more, and to make it more…dense and translucent? I spooned a little Whiting into the pint container of slip and mixed enthusiastically. The result of the second test is on the right, above - you see that the same clay slip has melted totally, due to the fluxing action of calcium at high temperature, and has become a thin, translucent, greenish glass. I need to go one more round, modifying my enthusiasm just a bit - maybe half the amount of Whiting so that the slip doesn’t loose all its viscosity & run right off the form.
And I’m going to need a larger supply of that Chama clay, too, once I get the formula for the glaze figured out - could be pretty frozen up there at the moment, though.
Meanwhile. Here at the gallery, we plan for the eleventh annual Open House - to be held Friday & Saturday, December 14 & 15. As always, terrific amounts of giveaway pots left from various projects throughout the year - as well as beautiful new work and of course doughnuts, packing & shipping, holiday cheer. Please drop by if you’re in town!
This year the Open House will feature work by student potters & by our two resident potters at the workshop-studio where we do classes. December is a great time to browse this new studio & see what’s happening. Every Thursday morning through the end of the year we’ll have a short workshop that you can sign up for even if you’re not regularly using the studio - drop in to watch the demonstration, or pull up a seat at the wheel & make work too, during the three-hour session.
Topics include: stacking wheel-thrown sections to make bigger forms, slab-building essentials, exploring micaceous clay, developing a design for your wheel-thrown dinner set, combining slab & wheel-thrown elements. In January, we look forward to a workshop on the science of clay - how and where it forms, why it behaves the way it does.
Click here to read more & sign up for one of these little workshop-classes.
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice…
Happy Holidays from Green River Pottery. Stay warm!