The old proverb, “We plan, God laughs” applies to pottery. Time and time again, firing kilns reminds me that as in life, rigid expectations often lead to disappointment. On the other hand, putting forth your best and then letting go of the outcome allows for learning, growth, and satisfaction.
I had expectations for my last kiln. Rigid, demanding expectations, so of course, I crashed and burned.
Later, sifting through the rubble of my disappointment, I found the gems. Gems of actual pieces but more importantly gems of learning.
Long story short, some stilts I bought for finicky pieces melted, bent, and fell onto other pots around them, causing imperfections.
At least 3/4 of the kiln was successful, but I couldn’t see that at the time. All I could see was the 1/4 with issues.
At first I couldn’t even see the sweetness in the surviving pottery. But once I adjusted my attitude, I fell in love.
I know that the kiln will need to teach me this lesson hundreds or thousands of times before I master it, but that’s why pottery is exactly the life coach I need. It never gets tired of showing me its wisdom.
Waiting to open a kiln is like waiting for Christmas morning times 10. In the 36 or so hours it takes to cool enough to open safely, I have to find creative ways of distracting myself from the anticipation.
I try, but there is just no way for me to be calm, cool or collected on the day of an opening.
The current situation in my cooling kiln is the product of an entire summer of work. Hundreds of hours of throwing, trimming, carving and glazing, plus a few bisque firings in between. As much as I’ve studied and tested glaze combinations, there are no guarantees. Generally I have found most times I’m satisfied with about 2/3rds of my kiln. The other third can be re-glazed and re-fired, and often those end up being gems.
Inside the current kiln are at least 60 pots, including large and small bowls, tumblers, jars, planters and bases, all freehand carved. They have a total of 24 hours of glazing invested in them. I didn’t count the hours throwing, trimming and carving, but call it a summer because that’s mostly what I’ve been up to (aside from sleeping, eating, and puppy hunting).
I’m excited to share some of my best work soon, and humbled to know I’ll look back in a year and know it’s no longer my best. That’s why I love pottery. It’s constant evolution you can watch happening.