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The Road Not Taken

I had a pretty fabulous ceramic education, which I began at S.U.N.Y at Stoneybrook, after a failed year at an all girls school in upstate NY. My instructor was a gentleman named Dennis Moss. I remember him being incredibly patient and kind, and helping me to learn to "center" on my own. Taking classes at Stonybrook that year launched me to summer school at Boston University, and I never looked back. My parents moved off the island the following year and I never had the opportunity to thank him.

I have no memories of firing reduction kilns from that year, but if I remember the pieces I made (even my mother does not have them!) they were high fired gas pieces. At BU, at the Program in Artisanry, we were left pretty much on our own to fire off the big burners, and it was a terrifying experience for me, in all honesty, especially when the kiln was loaded with final projects at the end of the second year. What I do remember is trying to pull an all nighter, and the cone pats, still wet, blew up all over the kiln, necessitating the unpacking of the whole shebang the next morning. The best lessons are the ones hardest learned.

My senior project went no better at the University of Illinois, two years later. I had forgotten to put the copper oxide into my "Kelly Green" glaze, and the results, while not terrible, were dissapointing. Milqtoast.

After I graduated and moved to Vermont to set up my own studio, firing electric seemed a less stressful way for me to accomplish my dinnerware and tile making goals. The body of work I was interested in making did not require gas lines, hard brick, chimneys, and more crucially, a MAN TO HELP WITH THE HEAVY LIFTING!! Did not have one.

Spending the last 40 years (yes, this is my 60th year) working in the field with a narrow electric firing focus has been rewarding in many ways. But for the last several, I have desired to make new work, and explore different glaze recipies, clay bodies, and firing temperatures. Returning to school this fall at The Ohio State University was a blast...I fired cone 6 reduction, cone 6 soda, both stoneware, and cone 10 reduction and cone 10 soda, with a porcelain body. I tested probably 40 different glazes, many from my card files dating back to Boston University and the University of Illinois! Interestingly, the same base glazes are still kicking around on the internet. I wanted my own kiln.

This week, I reunited with University of Illinois studio and classmate Gail Russell, from Peachblow Pottery, in Sunbury Ohio. She sold me her very first kiln, built by her back in the 1980's. My "MAN", Howard Peller, helped me pack the parts and pieces into the back of the truck.

Chimney, stack, shelves, brick, burners, frame, all delivered to Coulsons up the street, where Brian and Mark will be reassembling and creating new walls and roof. Hope to have a foundation poured for it in June, behind the barn. Will fire it off before the bluebirds leave in August.

Reader Comments (1)

Great work and I can see a lot of effort has been made to come up with such thing

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