The most recent wood firing that I participated in produced some pots that made a few potters unhappy. One man was very disappointed and posted a picture of a cup he disliked on Facebook. Friends flocked to it to tell him how much they loved the cup. Another friend said she thought all her pieces experienced too much reduction and came out too dark. Again, I looked at pictures on line and thought they came out beautiful. Of course a picture isn’t the same as seeing the piece in person but I’ll bet they were beautiful in reality.
I’ve seen this with students also. I’ve seen a student be very disappointed with a beautiful pot because they expected something different. My advice is to put the pot away until you have lost your expectations then look at it with fresh, eyes that are not opinionated. That tends to work.
|Wood Fired Vase|
Some people who work in other art mediums that have much more control argue that potters are not true artists because we often leave some of the elements of our art to the kiln (or kiln gods as the case may be). Potters argue that letting go of that control is part of our art form. I can’t imagine we will find an answer to that debate here, and that’s okay.
For me I’m happy to work with the materials in harmony. I like having a little control but I also enjoy giving up some control. I believe that it should feel like Christmas when we open a kiln. Sometimes the gift is good, sometimes it’s not. I understand that potters want our voice to be seen in the piece and I understand the disappointment when it is not. Maybe the voice of the potter has a lot more to do with nature than we realize. We do play with mud after all. If you really watch the leaves on the trees they seem to change a little differently each year. I suspect light, water, and temperature play roles in the process, but they always look beautiful. I think it’s called harmony.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff