The “G” Word

Most people in ceramics love to make work.  Even when you have to make a lot of it in a short period of time, it’s the chance to do what we need to do: CREATE!  For some it’s the chance to delve into new realms, taking an idea and developing it in an exciting direction.  For others, the repetitive process of making innumerable pots is satisfyingly therapeutic.  Greenware is a beautiful thing: soft and glowing, full of promise.  Bisque firing is an awkward phase: the pot looks hard and lifeless, the sculpture looks frozen.  Still…there is the unspoken potential for greatness.  An opportunity to marry the piece with a surface treatment that will elevate it to a thing of often unrepeatable greatness!  Or…you can screw it up.  Glazing is to me The Beast.  A chance to take an otherwise perfectly fine piece of art, and turn it into a thing that produces copious clouds of embarrassing verbage. 

I hate glazing.  There. I’ve said it.  It’s unprofessional. it’s whiny. I should just suck it up and understand that not all of what you make is going to survive, but I Really Really Really do Not like it, and when there are shelves and shelves of bisqued-up  pots sneering at me with that  “come on…let’s see whatchu got” expression, it just zings me into a rotten frame of mind!  

I do not throw pots very quickly, okay?  It takes me a long freakin’ time to get a good inventory up.  Not to mention the carving and sculptural additions…that makes even more time invested!  And then the Glazing Debacle begins!!  I don’t make big.  I make lots and lots of small.  That means a whole lotta time waxing and painting and more waxing and pouring and dipping and spraying and wiping and touching up and it goes on and on and on for Weeks on End!!  And then you Fire the Stuff!  Oh Lawd: then the anxiety goes through the roof. Oh Pleeeeeeze: let the stuff come out okaaaaaay!!!  If something runs and sticks let it be the pot I don’t like, not the really good one!!  Please DON’T LET THE TILES CRACK!!  That sculpture that I actually felt good about?!  Can the oxide washes come out right so I don’t have to re-fire???!!

The first moment I look into a glaze kiln I usually have my fist stuffed into my mouth, so I won’t scream.  I peek through one bloodshot eye to assess the results, and usually feel a wave of nausea wash over my trembling body.  Most times I hate what I see.  By now, I know to give it a day or two, and then it will look better.  In a week it starts to look fine.  Mostly. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever get comfortable with glazing.  I aspire to get comfortable enough so that I don’t irritate my studio mate with my foul humor during the process.  Right now, I’ve got pots to wash.  Lots and lots of pots…Image


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3 Responses to The “G” Word

  1. Anne says:

    i too hate to glaze, all that waxing and washing and glazing and cleaning up bottoms… my bisque pieces seem so nice, and the risk that the glaze not work out ok is sometimes more than one can bear, especially on a really good piece… but then sometimes the glaze is just right or even a happy mistake, so the kiln opening is always like Xmas morning to me… there is always something to learn inside, good or bad…

  2. tom says:

    I’m not a potter, but when I go to a show, I am always drawn to the clay. I like to buy those pots with the test glazes on them. I bought two at Fairport Canal Days and they are perfect for soup. And I love looking at the different glazes, and wondering which one he ended up using.

  3. Meghan Sarkis says:

    I had the pleasure of seeing and taking a piece of your work home with me, from the 2013 Clothesline Fest. I am an artist, as well, and identify all too well with your musings.

    It often looks grim, from our own perspectives as people who “make,” but I can tell you that your work is incredibly fine and I am looking forward to adding to my collection in the future.

    Any chance you’re going to be putting some sloth type things in your Etsy shop anytime soon? 🙂

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