My ceramic work is typically wheel-thrown using a potter’s wheel and most pieces are fired using a technique called salt glazing. Salt glazing has a long and fascinating history, which I’ll mention here in brief. German potters were the first to use the salt-firing technique in the late 13th century and early 14th century. Some ceramics historians claim that this technique can be traced to the burning of discarded wooden boxes that had contained salted cod fish.
In order to fire a salt glaze kiln, common salt, usually in the form of rock salt, is introduced into the kiln near the end of the firing. The sodium component of the salt—NaCl—is an alkaline flux which combines with the silica in the clay to form a glaze on the surface of the pieces. Contemporary art potters have revived the salt glazing technique, both for its creative potential and for the surface qualities it imparts.
The tell tail sign of a salt fired piece is evidenced by the three or more small, white circles on the foot of the piece. These marks occur during the firing process as a result of the high alumina wads that supported the piece during the firing and prevented the salt from glazing the piece to the kiln shelf. Another effect of the salt in the firing, a surface characterized by an orange peel-like texture, can be seen on several of the pieces in this exhibit: Potters consider this texture to be a desirable result, one of several unusual and intriguing glaze effects that result from a salt glaze firing.
Stoneware pieces comprise the remainder of the pieces in my exhibit, and they are fired in a reduction atmosphere at cone 10 (2345 F). The reduction atmosphere is achieved by restricting the fire flowing through the kiln. The reduction helps bring out the various metallic oxides that are present in the glazes and clay.
My interest in functional pieces comes out of my early training as a potter and from a background as a full-time production potter for seven years. I have always enjoyed functionality in ceramics- I love to use my own pieces, and it gives me pleasure, for example, to eat my dinner on a plate with a visually rich surface along with its functional form. All of my pieces here are meant to be not just enjoyed visually, but to be used, and it’s my hope that whoever uses them will find their experience of what is normally an unremarkable, everyday experience becoming an aesthetic one.