The day dawned...the Raku kiln was lit at 8 am and Nina, Rod, Barry and Lynn perked up their dozy sunday morning selves with a nice strong coffee!
From 10am 25 members arrived laden with pots, bowls, sculptures and very generously with soft wood sourced from skips, house renovations etc. The kiln performed magnificently and got to 1000 degrees centigrade in a couple of hours.....ably stoked by Georgina, Jackie, Jan and a few others who wanted to try to learn the language and rhythm of our great little club kiln.
After much chatter and splattering of glazes the first pots started to be fired. Lynn Forth worked hard lifting the pots out of the kiln and plunging them into sawdust...aided by a rolling team of helpers. Nina packed a pit kiln with pots, sawdust, organic material, salt, oxides and wood. The pit had been dug earlier in the week by Rod, Ninas’ husband, it was then lit and covered with corrugated iron. A small housebrick smoke kiln was constructed...Unfortunately we only had a few burnished pots but a few unburnished pots were added, this was then lit and covered to gently smolder.
Everyone pitched in either chopping wood, making coffee, helping to prepare lunch...it was a very jolly, friendly atmosphere only slightly dampened by a couple of rain showers when we all had to dash for cover.
Lunch of home made soups, homegrown sausages from Nina and Rod’s herd of Gloucester Old Spot pigs, bread made by Barry Marshall-Johnson, cheese scones by Georgina Cominos and cakes by Brenda Albert were hungrily consumed. Everyone gave £5 towards the lunch and a £70 donation will be sent off to ‘Cornwall Hospice Care’.
The day was long but no one faltered in their enthusiam. Towards the close after laying out all the results we had a little ‘crit’ to see what had been successful and what could have happened differently in terms of glaze application, clay type, form etc.. It was generally thought that the more expressive application of glazes had more of a vibrancy and charm...when too much thought and control was brought to bear then they tended not to work quite as well. Some of the glaze colours were just plain nasty when used on large areas but interestingly did work when just a small amount was expressively added or dropped onto the surface, they then gave the pots a little subtle liveliness and quirky identity.
The pit and smoke kilns were unpacked next day. As predicted the burnished, white clay pots worked far, far the best....they can now be polished with bee or furniture wax to bring out the colours from the fire. The rough unburnished pots are still good to see for the potential of both types of primitive firings.
So all in all it was a very successful day. CCGG intend to invest in more glazes for next time. We also hope that members will rise to the challenge of making burnished ware and then we can build on the experience and reflections of what we have achieved. In terms of the Raku maybe we could all glaze one pot early on arrival, fire them to get 25 results, do a ‘crit’ and from that then go and glaze another pot so the learnings are integrated on the day rather than wait a year.
So thank you for all of you...everyone stayed, cleared up and thoughly threw themselves into a fantastic club event.