Sunday, January 17, 2010

They say patience is a virtue...

I say patience is a pain if it's forced upon you.

I have none when I've made a piece of pottery and I want it to be finished. I chafe at having to wait for a piece to dry so I can fire it. I sometimes rush a bit to finish up a few pieces just so I can fill the kiln.

Then comes the wait for the kiln to complete its cycle and cool down. Tick, tock, tick, tock... watch the clock... Well, not exactly as I took the clock out of the studio. I watch the kiln.

After it's finished and reaches a certain temperature, I find myself walking by the kiln to touch the top and gauge coolness. Or, if I'm working across the room I can't help but glance at the temp every so often hoping it's dropped low enough to open... (yes, it's well vented)

It's worse when I've made something new, something that I really love, or something that stretched my abilities.

The joy of opening a kiln is usually worth the wait though. I've said it before: it's like Christmas, only better 'cause it's stuff I made. It's a big hot container of presents, waiting to cool...

After I finally get to open the kiln (yes, sometimes a little before you're really supposed to open it), I then have to wait until I've glazed enough pieces to fill it again.

Impatient soul that I am, sometimes I can't wait and I'll use my baby kiln to fire a piece if it'll fit.

Experimenting with glazes makes the second round of firing even more tortuous at times. I can't wait to see if the new glazes or combination of glazes will turn out like I wanted.

I bet most of you who use an electric kiln are familiar with the extremely looooonnnnngggg wait for the last 20 - 50 degree drop? It'll go from whatever astronomical temp you reach down to "almost there" while you sleep... but those last few degrees from "almost there" to "OK, time to open the kiln" take forever!

Tell the truth... how many of you have cheated and opened the kiln, let in a little air, then closed it again hoping to rush that last little bit of time? How many of you have done it more than once because it didn't work the first time? I've never done anything like that, oh no. I know better. I really, really do, I promise. (Want to know how long my nose grew as I typed??? can't type ayn morrae, it's droopnng onaato th key bard...)

Yeah, yeah, I'm guilty. Often guilty. Knock on wood I haven't lost a piece yet due to my inability to wait, but I know it's just a matter of time so I've been working on it for, ummm, how many years? hmmm... impatient potters anonymous anyone?)

Seriously, over the years I've gotten better at being patient.

A little.

OK, not really. I've just learned to schedule the kiln firing, whenever possible, for the times when I know I can't get out to the studio for a couple of days.

As I type I'm looking out my window toward the studio wondering if that last piece is bone dry yet so I can fire up the kiln. Tomorrow morning I guarantee I'll be out the door first thing to check.

Patience is something I doubt I'll ever have in the realm of my clay world. Impatient Potters Anonymous indeed! Where do I sign up?

1 comment:

  1. The other day I was trying to force dry a pot with a torch (you know, you've done it or considered it) when it broke from the heat. I'm ready for IPA too...hmm, IPA stands for India Pale Ale, maybe a beer would help.


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