Whenever I take on a new challenge in clay, I’m always humbled by what I don’t know…
After a month long trip through Baja, we returned to California and to two large pieces from my Rock Candy Series that were anxiously awaiting me in the studio. They’d been drying on the shelf the whole time we were gone, so I knew I could get them into a bisque kiln right away- which I did. It was great to just jump right back into the making process without hesitation.
But then they came out of the bisque with the same hairline cracks on the seams that I’d been getting on some of the medium size pieces. I know that they will only get worse in the glaze firing, but I couldn’t help myself and decided to try it out anyways. So I glazed them up and reloaded the kiln with my fingers crossed that the kiln gods just might take pity on me.
Well, the results were worse than I imagined or rather the worst I had ever seen come through my kiln. Ever. The pieces literally fell apart, collapsing, causing huge stress cracks and ultimately made me feel like a complete amateur in clay. How could these tiny hairline crack cause this much damage? And how is it possible that I’ve been working with clay nearly my whole life and I can’t get a few simple large shapes to survive?!?
Maybe I shouldn’t build big, maybe I don’t know what I’m doing, and maybe I’m not good at this. Doubt sneaks in easily in a clay studio where the ongoing mantra is always “this is ceramics, there are no guarantees”. Luckily, my pity party of self doubt didn’t last and the problem solver in me won the mental gameplay. I started looking for solutions.
I asked fellow artists and clay experts for help and now, with their help, I feel like I’ve got ideas of how to be successful at this new challenge. I’ve been a teacher of clay for over twenty years, but I will be a student of clay for a lifetime and I’m so lucky to have a community of experienced fellow clay peeps to keep learning from.
So stay tuned with your fingers crossed for me on this journey because now I’m determined to make these babies come to fruition!