Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Frontier-Ware


Dear loyal reader,

Here is a cup and a plate glazed with my alkaline ash glaze. They are pretty straightforward in design with minimal decoration. The sine wave on the border of the plate is simply made by wiggling a wooden comb on the pot just before I take the wire to cut it off of the wheel. The glaze is reportedly a descendent of a recipe from the late Burlon Craig. John Simmons renamed this glaze, the “alka-kline”. [John is very good with words. He also called my red dirt clay body, “the home clay”]

Anyway, there was a time when I would have been happy to dip all my pots in this glaze because it was so juicy and it made me feel a connection to the traditional glazed pots of the Catawba Valley, just an hour or so from here. In 2007, when this plate was made, about half of my kiln was glazed with the “alka-kline”. I was even doing a lot of slip trailing, too. [another post with some slip trailing]

Funny,
Just when I think my work hasn’t changed enough, or I fear that my work is in a rut, I trip over pots like these and I am a little surprised. A good reason to keep this online journal, aka b-l-o-g! It’s a good archive, a testiment to what I have done over the past few years.

Well, the other surprising thing about this work was that, at the time, I was convinced that it would be the next “big thing” for me. I was sure that the buying public would love it as much as I did. But the reality was that most folks who would buy pots from me want “signature” pots, aka, pots that were painted with some sort of brushwork. These alkaline glazed pots sat on the shelf as if they were invisible. With that kind of reaction I steadily made less and less of them.

But commerce is a poor critic and an unqualified muse!

The discovery of these old dusty pots has got me to thinking that maybe I didn’t go far enough in developing this “frontier-ware”. Maybe it’s time to reopen the investigation of this classic glaze and take it to a more personal place. Just as I have done with the mashup of south asian brushwork and wood fired salt glaze, I should chase this glaze around a little and see what I come up with. And it’s not only the glaze, but the forms of the pots themselves that may need to be developed that extra mile.


A couple of summer's ago, I found this shard in the field when I was hoeing weeds.  It's the only piece of whatever crockery it was once part of. I looked all summer for other pieces, but none could be found. It's probably pretty old. It is glazed with alkaline glaze and was probably preserve jar or small jug made an hour away in Lincoln County, no doubt.


After years of plowing, the missing pieces most likely got scattered. But it is a real treasure to me. Just as I treasure my my home clay and wood ash glaze, I treasure my place in this pottery making continuum.

Never a dull moment in a potter's life!