Woodfiring is a process that generates excitement and produces beauty while leaving some feeling excluded due to access, technical understanding, and difficulties in joining the dance among bonded firing crews. As the COVID-19 virus reigns over our world, many of us are reevaluating our roles as creatives. Moments of introspection and reprieve soothe us as we interact with vessels and embrace a spirit of new-century resourcefulness and inclusivity. We, the ceramics community, are prompted to discuss, refine, and spark ardor in the minds of our respective audiences.

Shared themes among potters

Artistry and science unite as the transformational power of the firing process breathes life into the potter’s work. For me, the fired qualities of ceramic artworks produce a range of reactions. Most firings, potters around the globe can attest, yield pieces that surpass our expectations, motivating us to explore newfound potential. Conversely, alongside our triumphs lie works that fall short of our hopes. A favorite form may inhabit a cool area of the kiln chamber, producing an underwhelming effect yet generating valuable information for the next firing. No matter our firing process, in the end, the forces of nature will have their say. 

Ceramics offers a limitless palette to the potter: From pre-cast bisqueware, brushed with commercial glazes, to raku-fired sculpture, our creative method reflects our personalities. Since before recorded time, people of all ages have continued to find renewal when encountering clay in both its raw and fired states. I love that the artistic pursuit of clay’s creative potential is boundless. Of course, our wishes and our realities often collide. Shares in a firing, travel to kiln sites, building kilns of our own; the cost of entry into the woodfiring world can be steep.