Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Touched by an Angel

One of the joys and challenges of atmospheric firing are the surprise additions by the kiln. In every firing there will be a couple of pieces which the kiln gods singled out for special attention with a splash of green or brown or gray soda glass. This occurs when the soda vapor glaze builds up on the underside of a kiln shelf to the extent that it finally gives in to gravity, and a drip of it falls off, often onto a pot.
Sometimes it will be bubbly or fizzy, and brittle: in those cases, the piece is obviously a second or refire. I used to call any kiln kiss as a flaw even though I always admire them, but I've changed my mind about it. In December I unloaded a large bowl from the kiln, with a bright aqua drip of soda on the interior. Instead of relegating it to the seconds shelf, I composed a tag for it which began, "This piece has been kiln-kissed..." with a brief description of what caused the mark. That bowl got a lot of attention and sold before its "perfect" companions.
So now I will be labelling all my kiln-kissed pieces (the ones that are not functionally compromised) as such. I may even charge extra for them, since they are by necessity a rarity. I could cause more by not cleaning my kilnshelves, but that would result in far more loss, as most soda glaze drops are not of the smooth sort.
This load produced four of the kiln gods' favorites, an unusual lot. It feels more honest to tell the world the irregularity is what makes them special, and if I'm lucky maybe the world will agree.


Kings Creek Pottery said...

I do have a natural inclination to support the underdog and I really like your strategy! What a great way to elevate these pots to a new status in not only yours, but eveyone's eyse!!

Dixie Nichols said...

Clever and absolutely right. People buy your pieces because they ae handmade and individual so to sell only the perfect ones is to sell only those without any sign of the fact they are hand crafted.

My father used to hand make glass buttons in the fifties. He went to great lengths to perfectly match the sets of buttons for each garment and always made extras because he knew the handmade process would mean there would be a lot of variation. I now sell his remaining stock which looks vigorous and individual and is more pleasing to the modern eye than perfectly matched sets.

Love your "kilm kissed" expression who can resisit a kilm kissed piece!

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