Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pepper Disaster

My latest firing was a complete and utter disaster. I fired the giant pepper, the one that is supposed to go to the mold maker later this month. It blew up and the kiln was a giant mess with fired blocks of clay spattered about and small pieces stuck to the glazed tiles that were also in the kiln. It was bad. Really bad. I actually had to take a couple of days to process all of it before being able to unload the mess. All that work, hours of sculpting, destroyed. Why can't I get this project off the ground? Is it really this hard to figure out? Maybe I made a mistake in firing. Here is a link to The Pepper Project if you would like to read further about it.

I wanted to leave the mess to sit a few days more but knew I'd have to deal with it at some point. Plus, I practice feng shui, and I knew it was really bad to leave sitting about for any period of time. It seemed silly to me, the need to mourn this piece. It's just a lump of clay for crying out loud! But I guess I love my work. Spending hours with these pieces, I get to know them. I create them. The pepper project was an idea born to me years ago. And obstacle after obstacle has been thrown in my way. When can I get one of these things made the way I want it?

I finally cleaned out the kiln to see what went on. Apparently the pepper blew out early in the firing (thanks to my cone packs I think I must have been told many years ago not to fire a solid block of clay. Probably in the ninth grade I learned this. And so I never did it. Then I guess I forgot, because I had never done it. So when sculpting the piece it didn't really occur to me that this was a bad idea. And the mold maker asked me to fire it in order to cast it. I guess there was an air pocket in the pepper, or probably several air pockets. What a mess...

Well the good news is that I was able to find someone to teach me to make molds. I recently wrote to one of the local art schools and asked the director if he had anyone. The school came up with a weekend workshop where the instructor shows a few different ways to cast molds. So that is coming up soon. I'll have to sculpt a new pepper for the class and see what he says about it.

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