A couple of months have passed already since Lisa has returned to Maze Hill and a lot of activity has taken place in such a short time. The preview to her exhibition is happening this Saturday 22nd September at the Goldmark Gallery.
There still is some effervescence in the air but things have calmed down; it is starting to feel like a come down, – a bit like around Christmas time with all the shopping and cooking to think about but, before we know it, it is January and a new year has begun.
Which reminds me: the next things to work towards to now are the Oxford Ceramics Fair at the end of October, and then our Christmas Open Studio at Maze Hill which always takes place on the first week end of December. Darren will also be selling his pots at Farnham and he is having an exhibition at Kigbeare Studios in November.
Anyway I have “borrowed” a few pictures from the Goldmark Gallery website to share here.
I think Goldmarks’ do a fantastic job at representing potters, the catalogues are beautiful and the films they produce are of very high quality. Whilst I was there looking at the Lee Kang Yyo exhibition, Mr. Goldmark told me that the film they had produced for Anne-Mette Hjortshoj had been seen by the queen of Denmark and that as a result she was going to visit Anne-Mette at her studio in Bonholm. They treat their visitors really well too, offering you a cup of tea or coffee as soon as you walk in; I have heard that they invite you to lunch also if you happen to arrive at that time ! Below is a picture of one of their lunch spreads that I “borrowed” from their Facebook page …
I myself am panicking a bit because I only have so little time to make pots and I am going away to France next week end which means I am going to loose three week ends of making. I have put myself in a bit of a pickle too because I have been practising making stir-fry bowls; my aim was to make a hundred to finally get that shape in my head and my hands but I might end up just having bowls for the Christmas sale if I don’t get my act together. How many week ends are there still to December ? I hope to have at least two firings till then and that I will get something good out them otherwise I am doomed…
Firing at Svend’s last week end
To change subject, Svend was firing last week end. The crew was Svend, Debbie Mitchell and myself, as well as Hugs, Debbie’s dog.
I arrived on Thursday evening, Svend had just finished packing the kiln so I was able to take a few photos of the inside. Once the door was in place, Svend put the gas on to heat up the kiln overnight which meant I could have a rest before shifts started for real.
I am normally on the night shift because that is what I do, I work nights at my regular job in London, so I am used to being up at all hours. Besides, I really enjoy it, it is very special; on a clear night, you get to see the stars in the sky and there are so many in the pitch black Sheepwash sky! At Svend’s, it is very peaceful, you hear the owls calling each other; in the spring you are treated to the dawn chorus and you get to see the new day slowly come to life. In the winter, I have seen the weather turn so cold that the water in the jug that I take on shift with me had turned to ice.
Svend making the final checks on the kiln
The other thing that I like about doing the nightshift is the fact that I am alone with the kiln; this is when I feel totally in charge and the sense of responsibility is enormous. I have to use my common sense and make decisions. When I think about it too much, I scare myself: I certainly do not want to mess it up for Svend, after all the effort he has put into the work, be it making, glazing, packing, chopping wood, stacking it, etc… One wrong decision on my part and I could ruin it, it is very scary but I really feel rewarded when everything works out fine. Of course if I ran into difficulties I would not hesitate to go and get him but my pride hopes I will never have to. I always feel a bit smug when I manage to follow the temperature chart accurately: job satisfaction really feels good does it not ?
Anyway, the firing started on Friday morning with wood, with Svend starting the most sensitive part when you have to really slowly reach past the 200C and get the chemical water evaporated. I took over at 2pm and I was followed by Debbie at 6pm ; the shifts carried on like this until Tuesday morning for the finish. The early part of the firing was easy enough with the temperature still being manageable and us still being in enough good shape. The kiln seems to fire itself most of the time, we are only there to feed it and to help it rise to the required temperature. As the days and nights progressed, we were starting to feel the heat ; we have to hold the temperature at around 1050C-1100C for 3 days and 3 nights, and maintain reduction throughout to obtain those beautiful deep fire effects and to get ash on the pots. We were getting more and more tired but we were still joyful ; we always have dinner around the kiln and we really look forward to those because this is the only time we can get together during the day and during the whole firing as such.
After my shift I try to go for a walk and take pictures because the firing process makes everything else seem unreal; the kiln requires all your attention and you tend to forget about the rest of the world and what is around you when you are firing.
Straw bales in a field.
View over Dartmoor
The last day was the hardest, it always feels that way for me, I am so tired that I want it to finish, but on the other hand I don’t, I don’t want to leave Devon and go back to London and I love that fire so much I want to keep it going. But well, we don’t want to overfire so we must stop at some point. This time, it was very difficult to reach cone 12 at the back of the kiln; it took us from 9:30am to 4pm. It seems the floor of the kiln was very hot and the heat was escaping out somewhere and not reaching the shelves above. Every firing has different problems and the packing for each next firing has to be thought out differently…! The kiln will be opened on Sunday.