Shelley Corwin on sun 10 nov 02
the opportunity for jokes is rampant here. malorganite, that smelly grass
fertilizer, is from human waste. what was the Bond movie with the bat crap
i simplified the problem a bit: there are enough cow pies, IF all potters
wanted to spend their time roaming the mts. picking them up. some people do
only that. we're talking major distances.
like us, they noted kilns are easier, especially in winter. it gets very
nasty on the high desert. but, the grasslands now are covered in scrubby low
stuff, instead of the pre 1900 taller than a man prairie type grass.
also, as always in any art, there are masters who will be masters no matter
what they use, and then the others. there are purists and then there are the
people who advance or take the art to new areas.
if you use manure fuel, you will notice that cows who eat tough, rougher
weeds and grass have denser pies. its amazing how they eat those thorns. it
fires hotter and more evenly. when i collected some from a local dairy farm
eating regular lawn style grass, the cow pies fell apart and were too
light=not hot enough= underfired, not fluxed paint, grey not white body, etc.
when they dry out and sit for months, they lose some of their oomph. the
potter has to file this info in their head, how light is the pie, how much
thicker do we make the covering, etc. there is a lot of experience going into
no, I don't pick them up wet. yech. Got to stock up for the winter. these
choice pies are about 6-10" in diameter and 1-3" thick. the object is to
break and stack so you have an even approx 6" wide layer. zuni sheep pies are
mixed with years of corral dirt, they need a hatchet, its like a brick. at
one time apparently juan put in clay with the grasses as a substitute, but,
it doesn't burn. I am years removed from the techie end of ceramic/volatile
materials, so I ask-who knows what kind of slow even, hot burning fuel to
substitute? remember this ignites quickly, unlike, say, smart n finals cheap
giant bag of hardwood charcoal, fires in 20-30 min. for a 15" pot under a tin
or clay saggar. remember too that for blackware you need to get hot enough
to create the black, although its cooler than polychrome. i have heard from
someone who tried to track it that its around 1500 F.
myself, i have no personal problem with polychrome created in a gas based
kiln. i think there's enough expertise needed in choosing the right level of
clay in the mt, refining it, grinding and mixing minerals, and painting,
yeeks, you should see a 14 year old paint. but remember, i was a production
potter. and also, i personally dislike the idea of a trader or museum
deciding what the potter's creativity and effort is worth, but that is the
way of the world and markets. when a famous potter had a glazing assistant
dipping his mugs, was it still his work? he increased his $ received by
enough to profit after paying him. (this from my long dead thesis)how about
old time studio assistants to the masters, the paint grinders etc?
can any of you help spencer and the potters with their idea for fuel and also
re the stamp and or test or threatened test to identify the "pure" craft? and
now for the fun question, where do you as a potter stand on the ethics of all
this? how can we artists protect our markets? do we have to come up with
something new and snappy like fashion or, like some says, just get better,
quality will persevere. s