The main purpose of this research was to develop a chart which would enable potters firing reduction to accomplish three ends:
1) To reproduce desired results from one firing to another.
2) To convert from one fuel to another, in the event of fuel shortages, and still achieve the same firing results.
3) To conserve fuel by firing efficiently, without adversely affecting the end result.
As makers in the modern era, we are no longer making out of the necessity of our communities. We now have the privilege to make based on what sings to our souls. And although the practicality of using wild materials in the modern age is low, for Zach Sierke there is no substitute for what these local materials can provide: connection.
Willa Cather wrote, “Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world: but here the earth is the floor of the sky.” Over the past year-and-a-half, Betsy Williams has delved ever deeper into sourcing and testing wild clays, specifically looking for high-fire clays and glaze materials. It did not take long before she realized that prospecting for and working with wild clay was where her pottery-making destiny lay.
Do you want to use an O’Brien? Please try it. Tell us how it is for you and if you make improvements. It’s a team sport, rah rah. It gives everyone something to do: one person to pull the brick, one person to spray, one to load the next shot, two vampires to vamp the dampers in and out.
Open-firing, despite being regarded by some as an archaic technique, has much potential for interpretation by the contemporary potter. It is a ceramic technology that has lasted, unbroken, for thousands of years...
I believe that most of us are responsible for what we do, and make objects of worth that will be valued by future generations. Such objects will remind our grandchildren that the ceramists of the early twenty-first century were caring, careful, and future-thinking artists wishing to sustain the environment and lifestyle in a manner that is answerable and accountable for the future.
– Janet Mansfield, 2012
We don’t know if and how objects will matter in the distant technological future. This poses interesting dilemmas for ceramics: How do we hold on and innovate at the same time? How do we imagine a new future of tactility with clay?