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The art of making pottery

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

“One of their favorite glaze patterns was made by burnishing the surface of a piece by using iron oxide in the glaze and then adding the salt during the firing process. The materials of interest to Alfred as he constructed the kiln were the nonporous bricks and arched wooden frames. The kiln had to be framed out to match an internal capacity of twenty-four square feet. These dimensions were necessary for the double damper system to work when

‘soaking the wares, holding them at high temperature. Also, Alfred needed adequate area measurements to allow correct amounts of salt or sulfur to be released during the glazing process.”

You will notice many references to making pottery as you read this book. The reader is drawn into the world of forming not only functional but beautiful pieces of pottery from a base of clay and supporting materials. My interest in the art of developing a piece, which is at once functional and beautiful, is fueled by the availability of renowned potters near my home. The area of Seagrove, North Carolina is home to many who have devoted their careers to this art, and I extend appreciation for the conversations around individual style and developing a name in this profession. The background knowledge about kilns and glazes was acquired by doing some research and the sort of effort put toward the Freedom pieces as described in the book was a combination of possibility and fiction. The fact that a vase can fluoresce under ultraviolet light depending on the glaze is real as exemplified in the pictures. Certain diamonds, depending on their specific chemical makeup, fluoresce naturally as seen in an additional illustration. The ability of diamond dust applied to the surface, or mixed within glazes, to conduct electric current has a basis in theory but to my knowledge has not been put into practice. However, in other uses, piezoelectric detection devices use a diamond layer to detect miniscule organisms. So again, part working theory and part fiction was applied. Clay and soil mixes play a big part in the success of molding and firing pottery. Glazes are often designed to be used in a particular type of kiln and the look can be different if the pH is changed by adding salt or soda. Also, certain glazes that are used in combination with wood firing can give a certain look when ash fired.

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