Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Before I tell you about my kiln meltdown, I need to tell you that I will be at the Clay and Glass Festival in Palo Alto THIS weekend. Come and see me!

Since I'm about to have my biggest retail show of the year, that's usually about the time my kiln decides to go on vacation. Without telling me. Most people see kilns as an inanimate object, but ceramic artists know that kilns, in fact, have minds of their own and like to use their power for good and evil.

So, for the first time in many, many years. I lost a whole kiln load of pottery to a major overfire. My thermocouple, the brand new one I just bought and installed, was faulty, and not reading temperature properly. I just realized I'm blaming my kiln for screwing up when really, it's the thermocouple's fault. Yeah yeah, I know you are supposed to test everything, and use a witness cone, and blah blah blah.  I did not. Anyway, here is a sample of what I had to deal with first thing Monday morning:

Potters know what's happening here, the unschooled think it's trick photography. What happened is the glazes got so hot, it ran like liquid down the sides of the pots, fusing to the kiln shelf. If you look closely at the cake stand, you can see the drips. The only thing that can solve this problem is a hammer and a chisel.

So, how did this make me feel? Well, as I was unloading the kiln and seeing the damage, I felt a little sick in my stomach. It hurts to see beautiful work destroyed, and think of the wasted time and money.
But mostly, I just wanted to clean up the mess as quickly as possible, and move on. While I was chinking pieces of pottery of my shelves, I was listening to an interview with David Jay, who started The Scar Project, photographing women with breast cancer scars. So I'm listening, and chinking away, and comparing my disaster to losing your breasts to cancer, and I figure that this isn't even close to a really bad day. I know from experience that this meltdown won't even cross my mind in a month, so why let it totally get me down today?

Maybe I'm evolving, maybe I don't care as much anymore, maybe I'm able to keep things in perspective. Whatever it was that helped me get through this meltdown without melting down myself, I hope I can do it again!