[Clayart] carol's work, down firing (long)

vpitelka at dtccom.net vpitelka at dtccom.net
Sun Jan 16 01:12:29 UTC 2022

Hi Mel - 
You and I have gone around and around on this over the years.  I teach a workshop called "Handbuilding: Tricks of the Trade."  In that five-day workshop, I teach everyone to make a very large coil jar, pinch forms, and soft-slab and stiff-slab forms.  We always have a wonderful time.  Handbuilding is not at all difficult when taught by a qualified teacher.  It's far more difficult to teach throwing.  Our Intro to Clay class at the Appalachian Center for Craft was all handbuilding, because it makes more sense to learn handbuilding before throwing.
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Potter, Writer, Teacher
Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of mel jacobson
Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2022 12:53 PM
To: clay art <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: [Clayart] carol's work, down firing (long)

For those that are new to Clayart, Carol Marians (Knighten) is a double PH.D from MIT\ in chemistry and physics. She is way over our heads...BUT, LOOK AT HER WORK, SHE IS A MODEL FOR ALL OF US. She is a dedicated teacher.

Carol was a huge inspiration to many of us a number of years back when "downfiring"
was a controversial concept in ceramics.  "Fast firing was also a sin". Hank Murrow got me interested.  Others joined in.

I have a strong theory.  All base glazes are boring.  That is the point. It is a base to begin the "fun stuff".  Ron and John in their book teaches potters/clay folks to develop quality base glazes and spend your life making them interesting and then your own. They do not publish ready made glazes. It is about riding your tricycle, then your two wheeler, and grow into a great big "Harley Davidson" 120 mph cycle.  Some days I feel I am flying a jet.

If you are new to ceramics, no matter your age, you are a babe in arms. You add technique, skill and enthusiasm as you grow up.  The joy of being in the world of ceramics is the great adventure.
It never ends. The learning is life-long.

Re-read David Hendley's post last week.  He talks about loving the hard parts as well as the easy parts. He loves making his clay base. Working the pug mill, stacking the clay. He loves all the steps as I do. I always love cleaning the studio and the work areas before I begin a string of pots. It warms my body. Re/pugging clay and getting it ready for throwing is work. Make it just perfect. I never throw pots from fresh bags of clay from a factory. I put my total self into my work. Yes, and I build the kilns too. I love building kilns. One sets your own challenges. If you make 3d art with clay, the problems are immense. But, Joyful.  Ready made glazes may be essential. I have been adding to the pile of knowledge for over 60 years.
I am still a babe in arms.  Some days, totally stupid.

Making great coil and slab pots are difficult skills. It is not the easy way.  Skilled throwing is the best way to get lots of pots to fire. Hand made techniques are slow, and special drying is needed in small steps.
I always told my students `you do not start with coils, that is advanced work`.

If you want to read some of my books, they are all free of charge. Go to the first page of my website and click on the clayart archives and download whatever you want.  The published book "Pottery: a life a lifetime "
is still for sale on Amazon.  Not many left. (that was written before digital publishing.)

You do not need a degree in Chemistry to understand what is going on. Look, listen, read and never be frightened to try something new. Take baby steps, it piles up fast.

website: www.melpots.com

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