Potters hold fast to superstitions and folklore. Take, for example, the temperamental kiln god. Some devise tiny ceramic icons in their likeness to gain their favor, others beseech the tiny terrors for just one more successful glaze fire. Perhaps it is the unpredictability of the work…even with the most careful planning, things just sometimes go terribly awry. Glazes run off the pot and stick to the kiln shelf. The prized piece explodes and destroys every piece next to it on the shelf. And sometimes, just sometimes, all hell breaks loose.
I envision these little creatures with wiry, wild hair and a sour disposition. Their arms crossed tightly across their chests awaiting something to be angry about. And I have drawn their wrath. Maybe it is because in my 10 years as a tile artist, and I have yet to construct an idol in their image. Or maybe I’ve become complacent in my pleas for their mercy. Whatever it is that I have done or failed to do, has loosened their fury.
One bright morning in June, Sparky the kiln, fat with 4 inch field tile and accent tile for multiple orders, failed during the bisque fire. A thermo-couple had failed. Parts were ordered and customers were notified about the week delay. I shrugged my shoulders and never gave those wicked little minions a second thought.
The thermo-couples arrived, installed and a test fire performed. Sparky was back up and feeling fine. She was stuffed, once again, full of orders that had patiently awaited the fire. We made it a good three firings before the kiln gods once again made their presence known.
Sparky sits dark and forlorn…
Luckily, I was in studio. There was an odd, sharply pungent smell in the air. A vague, hazy fog hung in the air. There wasn’t any alarm (perhaps there should have been), until the power went off in the studio with a flash. With my heart in my throat, I rushed over and yanked the power cable from the smoldering receptacle. Was that a soft chuckle coming from somewhere over my shoulder?
Sparky sits dark and forlorn awaiting the electrician to repair the wiring to the studio, and a new power cord. New elements are arriving as well, in an attempt to outwit the capricious deities.
Fire Creek shop will be closed until the parts can be replaced and a test fire performed. Thank you all for your patience and understanding. I appreciate you all.
Now excuse me….I’m off to create an acceptable totem as an offering to appease my wee kiln gods. ~Dana