Flame, Ash, and Expectations / by Teresa Wooden

As I write this, the rain is pouring down on the metal roof of my studio and there is a chill in the air.  We managed to plant a few trees yesterday in the drizzle, but it leaves me wondering what happened to spring...I swear it was here.  But hey, at least it's not snowing...I'll take it.

Friend and potter Mike Taylor fired his wood kiln ("Seraphina") this weekend, and I was lucky enough to get a few animal sculptures and some saki cups into the firing.  The photo here shows them drying on my kiln before taking them over to Mike's to glaze and load.

Every potter needs to fire a wood kiln at least once if they get the chance.  There is such a primal connection to the fire, the smoke, and the ancient process...raw clay from the earth being bathed in flames and ash.  Stoking the fire and watching it so carefully, around the clock for two days or more, coaxing the temperature to rise just enough, not too slow, not too fast.  Standing in the warmth from the kiln when the frost is forming on the grass, watching the sun go down (or watching it come up); hot cup of coffee, quiet conversations, stories told, laughter.  Anxiously waiting...watching...tending...encouraging.  Helping this great smoking beast as if it is in labor, it's belly full of the ideas and creations of many hands.  Unblocking the door a week later after a long cooling rest, anxious for the first sight of the offspring of the fire.  Carrying them out so carefully, presenting them to waiting eyes, cradling them in eager hands and studying each mark, spot and splash.

Seems such a fitting way to begin the month of May, when we celebrate motherhood.  Mike's kiln opening is open to the public on Saturday, May 6th (www.westmichiganclay.com).  Come see how these little hares, birds and the fox turn out!  Assuming Seraphina and the fates are kind, they'll be available in the studio here during the Artz and Gardenz Studio Tour on Mothers' Day Weekend, May 13th and 14th.

Maybe Spring will even decide to come back home by then!  Cheers to all.