At a wood firing workshop in graduate school, I remember discussing the division of potters into two groups: makers and pyromaniacs. The theory is that some people make pottery so they can fire it (play with fire) and for other potters the focus is building the work and firing is something that has to happen later. I put myself firmly in the latter category.
|first three coats of green underglaze and first coat of yellow on sprigs|
I love to build work. I pretty much hate the process of glazing. That doesn't mean I don't care about glazing. My work would be completely different if I wood fired it without glaze or just poured or sprayed on any old glaze. Color and its controlled application are both important in my work. I just wish I could wish or command the colors into place instead of having to go through the tedious process of actually applying them.
|first coat quickly applied to surface of sprigs|
|second coat of underglaze carefully added to edges of sprigs|
|yuck, looks like I needed at least another coat of yellow|
|pencil line marking first coat of light colored underglaze on sprigs|
|this piece has three base colors (blue, yellow and red) and will have at least two more colors applied after firing to highlight the sprigged surfaces|
|messy red underglaze on sprigs before wiping|
Usually you can't see through three coats of underglaze before firing, but the underlying color can show up after glazing and firing. At that point it is too late to fix the initial application. I have learned this the hard way, too many times.
|a simulation of what it might look like after firing if I don't wipe away the excess red underglaze on the sprigs before adding the next color|
What this all means is that taking a whole month of my sabbatical to apply underglaze is both tedious and essential. I need to be careful and thorough. I need to to paint right up to the edges with small brushes and a steady hand. I need to carefully wipe away drips, overlaps and spills. And I need to keep track of how many coats I have already applied. Unfortunately, I don't actually enjoy it much. Does anyone want to take over?