Glazing Mystified


My practice with glazing sculptures is a dance, an attempt to embrace uncontrollable transformation. I have learned to condition a sense of surrender, a broad acceptance of what is and what will be, while at the same time sharply focusing on points of decision.


Firing clay and glaze is always a risk. The heat can destroy artwork that was an investment of the best an artist could bring to that object. The surface of clay can record the finest nuance of an artist’s emotion, attention and accumulated skills from years of devotion. All that can explode or melt away within the kiln.

Reminded of Sue 10 x 7 x 11 inches

That an artwork may be destroyed by firing must be confronted by ceramicists occasionally. A sort of easy-come-easy-go Fatalism can develop, that is both generous and a little bitter. We could call this, “being philosophical”; sh*t happens. Total uncontrollable transformations condition the outlook on other sacrifices in the process of firing and fabricating the clay sculpture. Notice how this may feedback into the psychological expression of the personas portrayed.

The untouchable melting of glass that occurs in the kiln is the core of this process, but releasing a sense of control is also imposed by the fact: the brushablr liquid put on the ceramic object does not resemble the hard, glassy, colorful finish after firing. There’s no way to completely know or control their color from before to after a glaze firing. One could go in the direction of eliminating chance, making test tiles, repeating past successes, or one can go further into taking risks.

Red Presence (detail)

I’ve learned dance with this unknowing, both making educated guesses, and also setting in motion random events of fluid color mixture. The glazing process has become a school for my intuition. My personal definition of intuition is knowing more than I could consciously explain that I know. Experience has shown me this again and again. Before I can even form the question of where to go next or where to find the tool I need, it appears before me eyes. I was looking in the right direction before I was conscious of the need. But this only happens if I surrender preconceptions or a desire to control the process. It happens when I willingly take risks, venture into a broader unknowing and surrender to a kind of controlled madness.

Untitled (Blue Presence) 20 x 18 x 14inches

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