Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When in Doubt, Don't



Silhouette of a foot-soaking bowl


Every now and then an opportunity presents itself to examine the interior of a wall on one of my pots - like when a pot cracks, like the one above.

I'm currently finishing up a commission for 45 foot-soaking bowls for the Andaz Hotel on 5th Avenue in New York. Levi and I have been making them since I got back from Ireland the end of February.

We've been working on a tight schedule, trying to get them all thrown and assembled (they're two-piece pots), and still have enough time to load and fire our wood kiln for the upcoming Hickory show the last weekend of March. A few days ago, I decided to transfer 10 finished foot bowls from one workshop to another workshop where my electric kilns are located in order to make room for making 10 more.

Bad decision. Five bowls developed cracks during the drying.

In general, any pot undergoes a lot of stress from start to finish, and its my job to coax it along as best as I can to keep it from cracking. With deadlines, my job becomes more difficult as I weigh possible outcomes of cutting corners and pushing pots toward completion faster than I'd like to.

When I'm making decisions influenced by deadlines and such, I usually refer to a maxim I learned from a friend a long time ago: "When in doubt, don't." Some people say to "listen to that small, still voice" that is creating the doubt.

These latest cracks may not have developed had I not fired a bisque kiln overnight with the exhaust fan off, allowing my workshop to heat up too much. I'm thinking that was the straw that broke the pots' backs. But then, if I hadn't moved the pots into the workshop for another day....



Foot bowls at rest in the first workshop

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